Humza Yousaf: would shift the independence campaign to ‘fifth gear’

Ben Macpherson, the Scottish government’s social security minister, said it would take more than the short to medium term for Scotland to become a successful independent country.

He wrote in the Scotland on Sunday newspaper: “Any reckless and too disruptive path to statehood would rapidly impoverish our quality of life in Scotland.

“It’s better to downshift and travel at a reasonably safe speed than to crash trying to rush things.”

Scottish National Party leadership election
Humza Yousaf is greeted by his follower Evelyn Tweed (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Mr Yousaf, the health secretary, visited the Made in Stirling store on Monday, where he was welcomed by the local MSP and supporter, Evelyn Tweed.

With the ballots sent out to SNP members across the country, he told the PA news agency: “I will lead from the front as the first activist, I will build the team that will achieve independence.

“I will protect our pro-independence majority in Parliament, I will defend our Scottish democracy from the attacks of the Westminster takeovers.”

With polls showing that a larger part of the Scottish public favors her rival Kate Forbes to become First Minister, Yousaf said she wanted to increase support for the party and independence.

Scottish National Party leadership election
Humza Yousaf visited Creative Stirling (Andrew Milligan/PA)

He said: “I’ve managed to quadruple support among the public since the first polls came out, but I’m also ahead when it comes to SNP members and voters.

“That tells me that the party believes that my vision, a progressive agenda, reflects their values.”

When asked about Mr Macpherson’s comments, he said: “I’m of the opposite view, I think we should increase, not reduce activity.

“If I were the prime minister, I would put us in fifth gear, let alone a lower gear.

“There are a number of leaflets that I would undertake to publish around the case for independence as soon as I become prime minister.

“But also, from day one, we have to get the Yes movement going.”

The health secretary has said he wants to establish a consistent majority and a “firm will” for independence.

He said he would not give an exact timetable for how many polls showing pro-independence support above 50% would be needed for this to be the case, saying it will be “obvious” when the “resolute will” is achieved.

At the weekend, he refused to rule out calling a snap election in Holyrood to promote independence.

Yousaf said: “I am simply saying that we must use whatever means are necessary in terms of process to advance the cause of independence, that is within a legal framework.”


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