HUMZA Yousaf has appeared to concede his new plan to secure independence won’t persuade the next UK Government just a day after launching it.

The First Minister said he was “under no illusion that Westminster will continue… to deny us”, and so his party had to keep working “day-in day-out” on building support for a Yes vote.

The SNP leader also admitted the coming general election would be "difficult" and tough", but he was still confident he could win it.

Mr Yousaf told the SNP independence convention in Dundee yesterday that he would regard victory at the election as a mandate for independence.

He said he would seek negotiations with London on either a second referendum or moving straight to independence talks if the SNP returned a majority of Scotland’s MPs.  

He said the approach differed from previous elections in which the SNP said a win would mean a “cast-iron” or “triple-lock” mandate, as it was more direct and explicit

The SNP’s manifesto would contain the “page one, line one” statement: “Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country”. 

However both Labour and the Tories have already said they will not grant Holyrood another independence referendum, while the polls suggest the SNP will lose seats in 2024, weakening Mr Yousaf’s claim to securing a mandate.

Under Mr Yousaf’s scheme, he could claim a mandate on less than 40% of the votes cast, provided he won 29 of the 57 seats currently being updated by a boundary review. 

ANALYSIS: The continuity candidate continues the SNP's disappointment

Nicola Sturgeon’s now abandoned plan for using the election as a ‘de facto’ referendum envisaged a threshold of 50%-plus-1 of votes cast for all the Yes parties.

The SNP won most of Scotland’s Westminster seats in 2015, 2017 and 2019, but the UK Government refused to accept there was a mandate to revisit the No vote of 2014.

Appearing on BBC Scortland’s Sunday Show, Mr Yousaf was reminded that his predecessor had gone to Westminster with the same mandate and was turned down.

Host Martin Geissler said: “If you want to see what happens in the future, look at the past.

“Your predecessors have gone with precisely this argument to Westminster before and said give us a referendum. 

“They have said, No forget it. What do you think they'll say to you, if you go to them with that same proposition this time? What do you think the response will be?”

Mr Yousaf replied: “I'm under no illusion that Westminister will continue and does continue to deny us, and that's why of course the core of my speech to the activists was what we must never stop doing, what we are working on doing day-in and day-out, and week-in and week-out, is growing the popular support for independence.

“It is the power of the people that will break Westminster's intransigence.

“Let's just think about how he got our Scottish Parliament. That parliament has now become the beating heart of our democracy here in Scotland.

“We got that despite Westminster governments, successive UK governments, denying us that parliament through the power of the people.

“So we must continue, for those that believe in Independence, to grow our support so it becomes a consistent majority of the people, the consistent will of the people of Scotland.”

Mr Yousaf was also asked why he thought he could claim perhaps 34% of the votes cast in the election as a mandate for independence, compared to  Ms Sturgeon’s 50%-plus-1 plan.

He replied: “Remember, we already have a mandate for a referendum which is of course our Plan A. We want a referendum. It's a legally binding option that we want.

“We think it is the best way to test that proposition. 


“And of course, when it comes to testing a proposition for majority support, for that 50% plus one that you talk about, the way any democratic country does that is via a referendum.

“Now that has been blocked by the Westminster parties. 

“So the next way to test that proposition is through a general election.

“The rules of a general election are pretty simple. The party that wins the most seats, of course, wins the general election.”

“So if we win that general election, we will therefore then seek that mandate to negotiate with the UK Government on how to put that proposition into democratic effect.”

Asked how he could claim a victory if two-third of voters didn’t vote for his party, the SNP leader said the election had become the default mechanism in the absence of Indyref2. 

He said: “If you want to test the proposition for popular support, then we do that via a referendum. 

“If the UK government now want to agree to a referendum, if Westminster parties want to agree to that, bring it on. I’ll hold a referendum tomorrow, if they agree to do that. 

“That's how you test a proposition for popular support.

“That's being denied to us, despite the fact that we have a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, that's been denied to the people of Scotland. 

“So in absence of that, the next way to test the proposition on independence is of course by a general election, and the rules of a general election are pretty simple. 

“The party that wins the most seats wins that general election.

“I’m not saying to you that if we win that general election, Scotland suddenly becomes independent. 

“What I'm saying to you is that through a democratic lawful means, we begin negotiation with the UK Government on how to give that proposition democratic effect.”

Mr Yousaf also admitted the coming election would not be an easy one for his party.

He said: “This is going to be a tough general election, this is going to be a difficult general election. and that's why I'm going to put the case for independence as that alternative future, that better future to the people of Scotland. I'm confident we can win that general election.”

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf's Indy plan thrown into confusion by SNP MP Pete Wishart

Mr Yousaf also said that if the SNP won the Westminster election, it would trigger action at Holyrood, with the Scottish Government published a details pklan for Scotland to withdraw from the Union, a consultation on a written constitution, and the appointment of an envoy in Brussels to prepare the ground for Scotland’s membership of the European Union.

Scottish Labour deputy Jackie Baillie said “Humza Yousaf has made it clear – if your priority isn’t a divisive and disruptive referendum, the SNP doesn’t want your vote.

“This is a single-issue party without a coherent plan on how to deliver on their one policy of independence. The SNP has turned its back on anyone more concerned with ending the cost of living crisis, reviving our economy and rebuilding our public services.”