Majority of Scottish seats at Westminster is way to independence says Scottish First Minister
First Minister Humza Yousaf has said that winning a majority of Scottish seats in the general election is his preferred route to independence.
Mr Yousaf used the SNP’s independence convention to kickstart more discussions on how the party will secure the constitutional change.
The Westminster election, expected in 2024, will be pivotal to seeking talks with the UK Government on giving “democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent nation”, he told SNP members at Dundee’s Caird Hall.
Mr Yousaf fended off criticism that the strategy was effectively the same as his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, who wanted the election to be fought as a “de facto referendum”, with more than 50% of the votes considered enough to open negotiations.
The First Minister said a majority of seats would be considered a mandate to demand a referendum on independence.
His strategy includes campaigning on an “independence manifesto” which will state that a vote for the SNP is direct support for independence.
He said the Westminster election “offers us the opportunity to break the logjam. I believe that this election the SNP should offer the people of Scotland a mandate for an independent Scotland, a manifesto bursting with ideas about how we can harness our potential through the powers of independence”.
He added: “And in that manifesto, page one, line one, I am proposing that we put a simple but powerful message to the people – vote for SNP for Scotland to become an independent country.
“Let me be clear, if the SNP does win this election, the people will have spoken. We will seek negotiations with the UK Government on how we give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent nation.”
He later told journalists his preferred method would be “the most seats wins the general election”.
The two main parties at Westminster – Labour and the Conservatives – have said they will not grant a referendum.
And the latest PanelBase poll predicts the SNP will take 21 of the available 59 Scottish seats at the next election – down from their current 45 – while Scottish Labour are predicted to win 26 seats, meaning the SNP could fall short of the majority sought by Mr Yousaf.
The Conservatives are projected to take seven and the Liberal Democrats five.
Asked what a loss would mean for the party, Mr Yousaf told journalists: “We’ve already got a mandate, we’ve got mandates from previous elections given we’ve stood on that platform at election after election.
“What we’re seeking to do is put the proposition, very simply, the powerful statement in our manifesto on page one, and let’s put that to the people.
“My plan A, my preference, still remains that independence referendum.”
Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron said the plan was an “even more extreme version” of Ms Sturgeon’s plans.
He said: “He knows fine well that Scots will be voting on a number of issues, but Humza Yousaf – the self-styled first activist – has thrown another slab of red meat to nationalists to deflect from the chaos engulfing his party.
“The SNP delegation that bothered to turn up to Dundee are speaking to themselves about their number one priority while people are struggling with the global cost-of-living crisis and our public services are under incredible pressure.”
Support our Nation today
For the price of a cup of coffee a month you can help us create an independent, not-for-profit, national news service for the people of Wales, by the people of Wales.