No “magic wand” for Scottish independence, warns the SNP lead candidate
There is “no magic wand” that can bring independence, the favorite to be Scotland’s next First Minister has warned his ruling Scottish National Party, saying a sustained majority to leave the UK is crucial to overcoming Westminster’s veto on a second Referendum on this issue to overcome.
The comments from Humza Yousaf, Scotland’s health secretary and bookmakers’ lead candidate to replace Nicola Sturgeon as first minister, are likely to dismay those SNP members impatient that the party is making no progress towards ending Scotland’s 316-year union with England achieved.
In an interview with the Financial Times, Yousaf, 37, said he wanted the “rotten union” to end as badly as anyone, but made it clear that he accepted Sturgeon’s plan to call the next general election in Westminster “de facto”. to use, do not support the referendum on leaving the UK.
The UK government has refused to allow a second independence referendum after Scotland voted 55-45 per cent to remain in the Union in 2014, and the Supreme Court ruled late last year that Scotland would not hold such a vote unilaterally could. Polls show the Scottish electorate is split roughly down the middle on whether or not to leave the UK.
“There is no ruse, there is nothing that we can just make up, there is no magic wand that can bring independence because the British government has rejected the preferred path,” Yousaf said.
“The road to independence is through growing popular support. If independence becomes the enduring will of the Scottish people it will be these political obstacles being put up by Westminster governments [will be] overcome,” he added.
After a leadership campaign event in the central Scottish town of Lanark, Yousaf said that if he won the leadership election on the 27th he would have every opportunity within the legal framework to gain independence.
As a loyal lieutenant to Sturgeon, who has been given the task of leading the Scottish health system’s recovery from Covid-19, he is positioning himself as a defender of the First Minister’s record while signaling potentially important changes in approach.
Sturgeon repeatedly assured SNP members that a second independence referendum was near, but their eventual resort to the “de facto” vote divided their party and weakened their authority.
Yousaf’s rivals for the leadership, Treasury Secretary Kate Forbes and former SNP community security minister Ash Regan, have also rejected the de facto referendum plan but signaled they could seek faster progress on independence. Forbes said this month she would “fight for the right” within three months of the UK’s next general election, which is expected to hold a referendum next year.
“I’m afraid anyone who sells a path to independence that suggests it can be done in a matter of weeks or months is disingenuous,” said Yousaf, who was the first member of an ethnic minority and the first Muslim to serve in Scotland’s cabinet be appointed.
Unlike his peers, the health secretary is a strong supporter of legislation Sturgeon is pushing to make it easier for trans people to get official gender reassignment recognition.
Regan resigned from government last year over her opposition to the law. Forbes, who was on maternity leave at the time, said she would not have voted in favour.
Yousaf has vowed to challenge the UK government’s decision to use constitutional powers for the first time to block gender reform legislation, which has been backed by two-thirds of the MSP.
Yousaf said it doesn’t matter if you agree with gender reform.
“The crux of the matter is whether we allow the UK Government to overrule laws that have been passed by the majority of our Parliament. I’m quite disappointed that I’m the only candidate who is unequivocally committed to this.”
The health secretary also tried to portray himself as the best defender of Sturgeon’s redistribution policy. Your government has used devolved powers to levy slightly higher income tax rates on wealthier residents than elsewhere in the UK, while introducing benefits that include a £25-a-week child benefit for poorer families.
“I am unashamedly and uncompromisingly progressive in my views on wealth distribution,” Yousaf said, although he indicated he had no intention of widening the divergence with London any further.
“Right now we have the right balance between progressive taxation and the work we do to make sure we get people into work and grow that income base.”
A Savanta poll of 515 members of the SNP for The Telegraph this week found that 31 percent supported Yousaf, ahead of Forbes and Regan, but 32 percent said they didn’t know who to support.
Sturgeon has not endorsed any candidate in the race for leadership, but Yousaf is widely regarded as the preferred choice of the first minister and most party heavyweights. A number of SNP MPs have already backed his campaign.
But while Yousaf praised Sturgeon’s record, the health secretary seemed to share other colleagues’ dissatisfaction with what they see as her top-down approach to party management and her reliance on a small group of confidants, including her husband, Peter Murrell, SNP -boss, owned since 1999.
Yousaf said he had a “different leadership approach” to Sturgeon, who worked through an “inner circle.”
“I definitely want to see some reform of the HQ and I would have an early chat with the CEO to understand what his plans are.”
Opposition politicians have accused Yousaf of failing to avert a healthcare crisis over the winter and reform an increasingly strained NHS. But he said his tenure as health secretary and previous stints in transport and justice have made him “by far the most experienced candidate for the toughest jobs in government.”
“It’s jobs like Minister of Health that build your resilience.”
https://www.ft.com/content/d612f37f-0485-4bf2-8025-2a003f4c633e No “magic wand” for Scottish independence, warns the SNP lead candidate