SNP leader and First Minister Humza Yousaf has revealed his party would introduce a written constitution for Scotland if it secures independence.

The proposed document, setting out the rights of citizens, would help a newly independent Scotland take on the challenges of the future, Mr Yousaf said.

Speaking ahead of launch of the latest Building a New Scotland prospectus paper detailing the plans, the First Minister said the drafting of a new constitution would enable people in Scotland to shape the new country.

He said the constitution would include recognition of the NHS in Scotland, giving people the right to access a system of healthcare free at the point of need.

Under the proposal, the document would also provide stronger protections for human rights and equality, including upholding and fulfilling the right to an adequate standard of living as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

It would also formally ban nuclear weapons being stored on the Clyde and guarantee workers the right to take industrial action.

This week's prospectus paper will be the fourth paper in the Building a New Scotland series, and sets out more details about the constitution proposal and the arguments to support one.

Mr Yousaf said: "Our proposals would provide an opportunity for people in Scotland to shape the newly independent country and create a permanent, modern, written constitution to describe the type of country Scotland would be and how it would be governed.

"Successive UK governments have taken Scotland in the wrong direction and with independence we would radically shift where power lies and put it back in the hands of the people who live in Scotland.

"The constitution would set out how democracy, rights and equality would be at the heart of everything we do as an independent nation.

"It will see the introduction of a constitutional right to heathcare available at the point of need, a right to an adequate standard of living as defined by the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and protection for workers to take industrial action.

"And, what we will not see under these proposals, are nuclear weapons on the Clyde. This proposed constitution would ban nuclear weapons from an independent Scotland.

"With rights in Scotland under threat as never before, because of the actions of the UK Government, and the Scottish Parliament being undermined, independence has never been more urgent or essential."

The long anticipated paper is the first one in the independence prospectus series to be published by Mr Yousaf.

It follows three papers published by his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon. The first arguing that independent countries comparable to Scotland are wealthier and fairer than the UK; the second how Scottish democracy can be renewed with independence; and the third on the macroeconomic framework, including currency arrangements, for an independent Scotland.

Ahead of the document's publication Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution, External Affairs and Culture, Donald Cameron said: “Once again, the SNP are focusing on the wrong priorities at the worst possible time.

“Humza Yousaf had the opportunity to scrap these self-indulgent independence papers and refocus on what really matters to Scotland. The fact that he is continuing to waste government resources on these unwanted and irrelevant papers just proves that he is determined to continue with Nicola Sturgeon’s divisive agenda.

“Hardworking Scots will be outraged to see their taxpayer funding going toward an imaginary constitution, when the SNP’s full focus should be on supporting struggling public services, fixing our NHS and tackling the cost-of-living crisis.

“The appalling war in Ukraine has reminded us all that a military deterrent is still a vital part of our national defence. The SNP’s plans to write a nuclear weapons ban into the fabric of an independent Scotland shows how dangerously out-of-touch they really are.” 

Commenting ahead of the launch, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said: “The SNP are completely out of touch. Deploying more civil servants, money and time into independence is an insult to everyone waiting for help with the cost of living crisis, on lifeline ferries or for critical operations and treatments.

“We need to fix our broken politics and restore integrity, but the SNP are part of the problem not the solution.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats would introduce a fair voting system, end the unelected House of Lords, and establish foolproof systems to see the Scottish and UK Governments working together in all our interests instead of always hunting for friction and sowing grievance.

“With the SNP in apparent free fall there is an opportunity to make devolution work as it should, and Scottish Liberal Democrats will be part of what’s next.”

Last week SNP Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson said the UK’s constitutional arrangements threaten Scottish values and fundamental rights following the publication of a paper outlining nine occasions when it said the UK Government had used Westminster’s sovereignty to undermine the Scottish Parliament without consent.

Mr Robertson branded the UK a “constitutional outlier” for the lack of a written constitution that is commonplace in most modern democracies and in all 27 EU member states.

A series of polls has shown that while support for the SNP has fallen in the wake of the police investigation into party finances, backing for independence remains broadly steady.

A Panelbase poll published yesterday found 44 per cent of people backing Yes (don’t knows included), a fall of two points since the last survey by the pollster, while 50 per cent of people said they would vote No, up one point. Six per cent said they were unsure.