First Minister Humza Yousaf has said support for independence is “rock solid” despite the challenges facing the SNP, as he kicked off a summer of independence tour across Scotland on Saturday.
Yousaf spoke to activists in Dundee as he enjoyed a cycling event in the city’s Camperdown Park.
Speaking to the PA news agency, the First Minister and SNP leader acknowledged the last few weeks and months had been “challenging” for his party, following the controversy around the investigation into alleged irregularities in campaign funding for a second independence referendum.
Yousaf said: “The SNP has had a really challenging few weeks and months, there is no getting away from that, but even with those challenges, support for independence is absolutely rock solid.
“I believe the best decisions about Scotland are made by the people in Scotland.”
Yousaf said: “The next general election, we will fight on the issue of independence front and centre.
“That impasse will be broken by the power of the people.
“That’s why support for independence has to continue to grow.”
Last year the UK Supreme Court ruled that the Scottish Government could not hold a legally binding second referendum on independence without the consent of the UK Government, which has consistently blocked attempts to hold one.
Yousaf added: “As long as the UK Government continue to deny that (independence), what we will do is use the next election to test support for the proposition of independence.”
He was asked what a conversation with the next UK prime minister, whether that be Rishi Sunak or Sir Keir Starmer, would look like.
He said: “The conversation to me is a pretty simple one, it’s listen to the Scottish people, don’t ignore the Scottish people, we’ve put independence front and centre, and give people a right to determine their own future.”
Yousaf was asked if he was confident his party could win the potential Rutherglen by-election, after former SNP MP Margaret Ferrier was convicted of breaching Covid rules and was handed a 30-day suspension from the House of Commons by the standards committee.
The First Minister said: “There’s no getting away from the fact the Rutherglen by-election will be challenging for the SNP. The response has been very positive in terms of the SNP.
“Labour have already taken that seat for granted. They’ve already decided the result before the recall petition is even over.”
He added: “Labour are showing a degree of complacency, I want to see the back of the Tories, I also don’t want to see a Labour majority government.”
The PA news agency asked Yousaf if a negotiation on independence would be easier with a Labour government.
He replied: “I would hope so. The sensible voices in the Labour party would see that you cannot govern in Scotland by ignoring them.
“I would hope they would be more pragmatic about their approach.”