Humza Yousaf gets SNP's independence strategy wrong

The First Minister said the SNP would only need to win the 'most' seats in order to have a mandate for independence negotiations.

Humza Yousaf has said the SNP would only need to win the “most” seats in order to have a mandate for independence negotiations, appearing to get the party’s official policy wrong.

At the annual conference in Aberdeen in October, members overwhelmingly voted for a motion brought forward by Yousaf and Stephen Flynn that stated the SNP would try to immediately begin independence negotiations with the UK Government if it won a “majority” of Scottish seats.

But during an interview on STV’s Scotland Tonight on Tuesday, the First Minister said: “If we win the general election, that’s my goal of course, to win the general election in Scotland, is use that as a mandate to begin negotiating with a future UK government on how we give democratic effect to independence.

“Win means most, most seats, that’s what our conference, of course, backed in October last year.”

The SNP could suffer severe losses, fail to achieve a majority and still win most of Scotland’s Wesminster seats.

Scotland Tonight anchor John MacKay challenged Yousaf on the meaning of his words.

“A majority and most seats are, of course, different, so we need to win the general election,” Yousaf said.

“I think most people understand that most means that you’re going to win the general election.”

The SNP leader was then asked if he believes he is still entitled to push for independence if the party falls short of a majority.

Yousaf reiterated his intention was “to win” the general election by winning the most seats.

The SNP currently accounts for 43 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats.

Boundary changes will see the total number of seats in Scotland reduced by two to 57 in the next election.

The party’s official policy of needing to win a majority in order to “immediately begin independence negotiations” would only require 29.

But Yousaf said the SNP was aiming to get the “most” seats, which would only required it to achieve more than the other parties – a figure that could be sustantially lower than 29.

The SNP’s website states: “Conference believes that if the SNP subsequently wins a majority of the seats at the General Election in Scotland, the Scottish Government is empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country and establish a Constitutional Convention constituted by the MPs elected to Westminster, MSPs and representatives of civic Scotland.”

STV News asked the SNP about its official independence strategy after Yousaf appearance on Scotland Tonight.

A spokesperson said: “The First Minister was clear about the need for the SNP to win the general election in Scotland as the only way for Scotland’s voice to be heard, Scottish interests to be championed and further the cause of independence.

“The party united last autumn to agree a conference resolution on our independence strategy, including that winning a majority of Scottish seats is a mandate to negotiate for becoming an independent country – by definition, a majority of seats is always going to be the most.

“We are heartened but not complacent by last week’s poll forecasting the SNP winning 40 seats in Scotland and making Scotland Tory-free by winning every single Tory held seat.”

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