Humza Yousaf has said the next Westminster election should be used as a “manifesto for an independent Scotland”.
On Saturday, the First Minister told SNP members at the independence convention in Dundee that the manifesto should read “vote for SNP for an independent Scotland”.
It follows statements made by his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon, who said the upcoming General Election should be treated as a ‘de facto referendum’.
However Yousaf was clear that the only way to independence for Scotland was through “lawful and democratic process”.
He added the party would seek negotiations with the UK Government if the SNP were to win the election north of the border.
Yousaf said: “I am very clear, there is no route to independence except through the lawful and democratic process. Why? Because that is the way that we actually become independent.”
He added: “That election gives us the opportunity to break the log jam.
“I believe that in this election, the SNP should offer the people of Scotland a manifesto for an independent Scotland.
“And I am proposing in that manifesto – page one, line one – a simple powerful statement to the people. It should say ‘vote for SNP for an independent Scotland’.
“If the SNP win this election, then 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.”
During his speech, he also paid tribute to SNP stalwart Winnie Ewing following her death earlier this week.
The former SNP MP, MSP and MEP, who is credited with revitalising the independence movement, died on Wednesday aged 93.
Addressing the SNP independence convention, Yousaf said: “It is no exaggeration to say that we would not be gathered here today were it not for Winnie.
“With her passing this week, we mourn someone who was both a patriot and a pioneer.
“To Madame Ecosse, from the bottom of our hearts, we say thank you.”