HUMZA Yousaf has been branded "crass and ignorant" for saying Scotland is subject to “a foreign government” at Westminster in the final SNP leadership hustings.

The Health Secretary also argued with members of the audience at the Times Radio event, telling them “You can shout all you want” when heckled over gender reform.

Mr Yousaf made the comment after the candidates discussed the UK Government’s Section 35 Order veto blocking Holyrood’s Gender Recognition Reform Bill.

The Herald is only £1 for three months.
This offer ends Friday so click here and don't miss out!

After initially saying his plan to challenge that veto in court was “unequivocal”, he then rowed back when pressed on whether he would proceed if the Government’s legal advice was that a challenge was doomed, saying he would only go “if there was a case” to argue.

He said: “If we were independent we would not have a foreign government, for example, coming in and vetoing our legislation."

The Scottish Tories called it "crass and ignorant" and a worrying insight into how Mr Yousaf would govern Scotland if he became First Minister. 

A few minutes earlier, Mr Yousaf had said he would raise the tone of political debate as First Minister.

READ MORE: SNP MP calls Kate Forbes a sex-obsessed religious fundamentalist

Asked by an audience member how to "heal divisions in Scottish society", the Glasgow MSP said: “When you have a new leader in place that gives you the opportunity to set the tone from day one. I would want to set a tone from day one. 

"One of the first meetings I would like to have on day one is with all the leaders in the political opposition, not just those that I have a close alignment with ie the Greens, but actually all of those leaders to see where can we put our heads together? 

"Where can we find common solutions in the national interest? 

“I think if you do that as a leader, then it hopefully flows through not just the rest of the Parliamentarians but I would hope it sets the tone for how we want to do public discourse in society more widely.”

Mr Yousaf has said the SNP might support a Labour government at Westminster in return for Indyref2.

Ms Forbes was laughed at by the audience when confronted with her infamous quote about Mr Yousaf’s record of failure in the transport, justice and health portfolios.

“There’s no personal attacks in those comments,” she said, insisting it was about policy, and that in fact she admired Mr Yousaf “hugely”.

Mr Yousaf said he agreed with the audience’s sceptical reaction, and stressed that he had not made personal attacks during the contest.

Mr Yousaf and Ms Forbes also clashed over income tax.

Mr Yousaf said he might support an STUC proposal to introduce a new 44p band between £75,000 and the £125,140 top rate threshold to raise £200million a year.

READ MORE: SNP fails in 'shameful' bid to scrap FMQs until new leader ready

He said that extra revenue could be used to pay for better social care.
However Ms Forbes warned that could “over complicate” the tax system and risk a loss of income as high earners either moved away or chose not to locate in Scotland.

Ash Regan said the tax system was already progressive and she would raise money from a state equity stake in renewable energy projects.

Discussing the case of Adam Graham, the double rapist recently sent to a women’s prison after identifying as Isla Bryson, Mr Yousaf said: “Of course it was a mistake” but said it had nothing to do with the Gender Reform Bill.

When that drew a noisy response from some of the audience, he said: "You can shout all you want but the Bill is not even in force, so for anybody to shout and suggest that it's to do with GRR is simply not correct."

Responding to the "foreign government" remark, Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said: “This was a typically crass and ignorant comment from Humza Yousaf, who is clearly pandering to the extremes of his Nationalist base.

“The reality is that Scotland has two governments and the majority of Scots want to see them work together.

“Many of them will be offended by this divisive rhetoric, which offers a worrying insight into how self-styled ‘First Activist’ Humza Yousaf will govern Scotland if he becomes First Minister.

“His comments also make a mockery of his own promise minutes earlier to raise the tone of political debate and heal divisions.”