Scotland can be independent in five years, say SNP candidates

Candidates to replace Nicola Sturgeon at Bute House have agreed Scotland could be independent within five years.

In a wide-ranging debate on the BBC, the last televised event before the winner is announced on March 27, Kate Forbes, Ash Regan and Humza Yousaf agreed the country could leave the UK by 2028.

Ms Forbes and Ms Regan were unequivocal in their response, while Mr Yousaf said he thinks “it could.”

Forbes said: “Yes. I think it starts with us making the case that I talked about earlier.”

independence march
The country could be independent from the UK in five years, the candidates said (Jane Barlow/PA)

Mrs Regan said: “I think if I am Prime Minister Scotland will become independent within five years.”

The former minister went on to say that she believed independence was “urgent” due to issues such as Brexit and rising energy costs.

Yousaf said: “I think it can be and I would like to be the one to deliver independence.”

Yousaf went on to say that the SNP should “stop talking about process and talk about policy” in a bid to “inspire people with a vision of independence.”

Both Ms Regan and Ms Forbes, when questioned by an audience member, said they were not in favor of a confirmatory referendum to approve a final deal on independence, while Mr Yousaf indicated he was not fully against the idea, which became part of the Brexit debate. in the years after the vote to leave the EU, but was interrupted by the host before he could complete his response.

The candidates were also questioned about the Scottish government’s Deposit Return Scheme (DRS), which has been criticized for its implementation in recent weeks.

Ms Regan and Ms Forbes said they would stop the scheme, while the Health Secretary vowed to create a waiver for small businesses.

Ms Regan said: “We can’t put too many burdens on small businesses.

person collecting plastic bottles
The delivery of the deposit return scheme has proven controversial in recent months (Jonathan Pow/PA)

“We need to take another look at this, we need to get small businesses involved, to come in and talk to us about where change needs to be made, get it right, and then implement it.”

Ms Forbes also said that small businesses needed a “little bit of breathing room”.

Yousaf said she would not “reject” Lorna Slater, the Scottish Green minister responsible for introducing the initiative.

He said small businesses such as craft breweries and gin makers should be excluded from it for its first year, but added: “I don’t see any point in pausing the scheme when the big boys, Coca Cola, Pepsis of this world, they are already participating in some 40 DRS schemes around the world.

“Then let’s not let them get away.”

However, the finance secretary accused Mr Yousaf of a “rather desperate turn” by labeling his position on the scheme as “letting big business off the hook”.

“I think it’s perfectly progressive to represent small businesses, because small businesses are indeed the backbone of our Scottish economy,” said Ms Forbes.

“That’s not a jolt to the right, that’s quite a desperate turn.”

Bryson Island
Bryson Island is ‘fully into it,’ Humza Yousaf said (Andrew Milligan/PA)

In response, Mr Yousaf said: “I think you are appealing to big business by letting them off the hook in a really important scheme, because the climate is very important to all of us.”

Elsewhere, Yousaf and Regan clashed over transgender inmates.

Humza Yousaf told the live audience that Isla Bryson, a transgender rapist housed for a short time in Scotland’s women-only prison, was “in it”.

Asked about the issue by former minister Ash Regan during the BBC’s SNP leadership debate, Mr Yousaf said: “Isla Bryson should not be in a women’s prison.

“Isla Bryson is a rapist who is completely into it, I don’t think they are a genuine trans woman, I think they are trying to game the system.

“What we should never do is because we have a despicable individual like Isla Bryson gaming the system, we shouldn’t roll back the rights of the 99.9% of trans women who don’t commit any crime.”

Regan resigned from the government last year over planned gender reforms, although Yousaf, a former justice secretary when her rival was community safety minister, said he was not aware of her raising an issue with the legislation before her resignation.

According to the former minister, she raised her concerns directly with the cabinet secretary responsible for legislation.


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