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by Margaret Taylor
27 March 2023
New SNP leader Humza Yousaf accused of focusing on 'default indie obsession'

New SNP leader Humza Yousaf accused of focusing on 'default indie obsession'

Opposition parties have accused newly elected SNP leader Humza Yousaf of focusing on the party’s “default obsession with independence” after he pledged to immediately make a request for a fresh section 30 order.

Speaking to ITV News after he was announced as the winner of the leadership race, Yousaf said he would be asking the UK Government to grant a section 30 order “right away”.

As confirmed by the UK Supreme Court last year, the Scottish Government does not have the power to hold  a referendum on constitutional matters without Westminster’s say-so.

If that permission is given, the process for holding a vote begins with the granting of a section 30 order, which would temporarily transfer reserved powers to Holyrood under the terms of the Scotland Act.

Though then Prime Minister David Cameron agreed that process to allow the 2014 independence referendum to go ahead, successive prime ministers have ruled out agreeing to it for a second time.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said “you know our position” when asked about Yousaf making a fresh application.

During the SNP leadership campaign, Yousaf – who won the backing of 52 per cent of party members after second preference votes were allocated – reaffirmed his commitment to achieving independence and, in his acceptance speech, said the current generation of SNP MSPs and activists would be the one to see that promise through.

After Yousaf made his comments to ITV, Tory constitution spokesperson Donald Cameron said the Scottish public would be “astonished and dismayed that within minutes of being elected SNP leader, Humza Yousaf’s focus was on the SNP’s default obsession with independence”.

“The vast majority of them want and expect the new first minister to focus on the real priorities facing the nation – the cost-of-living crisis and fixing our NHS – rather than yet more constitutional stunts designed to stoke grievance with the UK Government,” he said.

“On day one he has broken his promise to govern in the interests of the whole of Scotland to instead focus on the only issue that his divided party agree on.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton agreed, saying "this is just the same old same old".

"The SNP is tired and out of touch, and it doesn’t look as if Humza Yousaf wants to make that any better," he said.

“On health, on education, on the cost of living, on the climate emergency, the nationalists have no credible strategy. At Humza Yousaf’s lead, the SNP will continue to haemorrhage reasonable, fair-minded minded voters who simply want good governance, not wrecking balls to unity and partnership.  

“I am tired of the scapegoating and backbiting that has chipped away at our politics for too long. People need a party who will fight their corner. This country is ready for change and Scottish Liberal Democrats will be part of what’s next.”

Yousaf is expected to be confirmed as first minister in a vote by MSPs on Tuesday.

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