HUMZA said there is no "shortcut or wheeze" for achieving independence as he stressed he will not pull a "rabbit out the hat" at the SNP's convention this weekend.

The First Minister also confirmed he will not set out a timeline for securing independence as he addresses delegates at a special party convention at the Caird Hall, Dundee.

However, he said he will set out his own preferred strategy, including how to use the next general election to "advance our cause".

Mr Yousaf said the independence convention will also be an opportunity to pay tribute to Winnie Ewing, the SNP icon who has died aged 93.

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He spoke to journalists at the Royal Highland Show near Edinburgh, where he launched a strategy that aims to increase turnover for Scotland’s food and drink sector by 25 per cent by 2028.

The First Minister said: "I'll be laying out what I think we have to do as a party and as a movement to advance our cause, but also I'll be listening to the contributions that our members will be making too."

The Herald:

First Minister Humza Yousaf visits the SAOS (Scottish Agricultural Organisation Society) during the second day of the Royal Highland Show, on Friday at the Royal Highland Centre in Ingliston, Edinburgh. Photo PA.

Asked if a timeline will be set out, he said: "No, because of course what I will say very, very clearly is that when it comes to the next national test of the proposition of independence, it's likely to be the general election.

"We don't have a date on that general election yet, but I can tell you this much – independence will be front and centre when it comes to the campaign for that general election from the SNP."

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Mr Yousaf refused to say if the election would be treated as a de facto referendum.

This was the plan previously advanced by Nicola Sturgeon before she resigned as first minister in February.

Her successor has previously been unenthusiastic about the proposal, and throughout the SNP leadership contest stressed a need to focus on building support for independence.

He was asked if the SNP had run out of road, and whether there is no short-term strategy or wheeze that can achieve independence.

The argument opposing 'clever wheezes' and 'shortcuts' was advanced in 2020 by Ms Sturgeon in her Brexit day speech.

Mr Yousaf said: "There's definitely no shortcut or wheeze. The reason for that is, of course, that the UK Government continues to deny our democratic right – our democratic right to an independence referendum, to that legally-binding referendum.

"So as long as they continue to deny that, what we have to do, from the SNP and the broader Yes movement, is pile on the pressure, the power of the people.

"So there isn't a wheeze, there isn't a rabbit I'm going to pull out the hat tomorrow. I've said that very clearly all along. I will, of course, articulate what I think the strategy should be moving forward."

Asked if his strategy is simply building support, Mr Yousaf said: "No, I think there's more to that. I will outline tomorrow, again without going into the detail of it, how we will use the general election to advance our cause. We have to do that. That is the next test of the proposition of independence. We have to make sure we're mobilising people behind that cause.”