Yousaf: I'll stay on as FM if SNP loses seats at general election

The First Minister suggested that even if his party lost a third of its MPs he would stay on as leader.

Humza Yousaf: I’ll stay on as Scotland’s First Minister if SNP loses seats at the UK general election Getty Images

Humza Yousaf has said he will stay on as First Minister even if the SNP loses a substantial number of seats at the next UK general election.

The SNP leader spoke to STV’s Scotland Tonight programme as polls show the party’s longstanding dominance in Scotland is slipping amid a resurgent Labour.

He said he wanted to make Scotland “Tory-free”, adding that the SNP was the party in second place in every Conservative constituency in the country.

In October, members of the SNP voted for a strategy aiming to immediately begin independence negotiations if the party returns the majority of MPs.

The SNP currently has 43 out of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats. Boundary changes will lower the number of Scottish seats to 57.

If the party returned a majority of 29 MPs at the next election that would represent a loss of nearly a third of its MPs.

Humza Yousaf sat down with John MacKay on Scotland Tonight as the programme airs interviews with all of the nation's main party leaders ahead of the general election.STV News

Asked by STV’s John MacKay if he would continue as leader following such a result, Yousaf replied: “Yes, because we would have just won a general election in Scotland.

“I don’t know any other political leader who would win a general election and people would question whether they would be leader.

“My intention is to win that general election and the way we do that is with a really simple message: if you want Scotland’s voice to be heard by the Westminster establishment you have to vote for the SNP.”

Yousaf said his MPs would pressure a Labour government on issues such as scrapping the two-child benefit cap.

“We would be able to force them on a number of issues through the internal pressure that we’ve been able to exert in the way that we have over issues like Gaza,” he said.

“We can do that on lifting the two-child limit, we can do that by making sure they don’t dump their £28bn green property fund which they now say they are doing and on a whole range of others.

“We could continue to make sure we push them and exert pressure on issues like the two-child limit where I think a number of Labour MPs probably support scrapping the two-child limit.

“They won’t do it because Keir Starmer tells them not to but if we brought the vote to parliament, like the Gaza ceasefire, that would make a number of Labour MPs nervous, think twice, they might rebel, they might have to vote against Keir Starmer.”

Yousaf said that sort of pressure would not happen under the Labour Party itself but could with SNP MPs at Westminster “making sure we put these issues to a future UK Labour government”.

Scotland Tonight will air on Tuesday night at 10.40pm.

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