SNP threatens Labour with difficulties in hung parliament over referendum

Scotland’s First Minister, Humza Yousaf, has warned that the Scottish National Party (SNP) could make life difficult for Labour in a hung parliament if the party does not grant Scotland the power to call a referendum. Yousaf emphasised that devolving this power would be the cost of SNP support for Labour’s agenda. However, he acknowledged that it is “obvious” that independence is not the “consistent settled will of the Scottish people.” Labour has repeatedly stated that they would not make a referendum deal with the SNP.

Yousaf, 37 years old, stated that having an independence referendum would be “top of the list” if Labour sought SNP cooperation. He added that if Labour did not want to cooperate with the SNP, they would “make life very difficult for them.” Yousaf’s comments drew criticism from Scottish Labour’s deputy leader, Jackie Baillie, who called the threat a “betrayal to the people of Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy accused Yousaf of being confident he could “hold a minority Labour government to ransom” and suggested that UK Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer would “cave to demands” for an independence vote. Yousaf became the first Muslim to lead a major UK party after being sworn in as First Minister in March.

In opinion polls, support for Scottish independence consistently hovers in the mid to high forties. Yousaf told the BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg that his preference was for a “legally binding referendum.” He added: “We’re there or thereabouts in relation to support for independence. I don’t want to be there or thereabouts; I want to make sure that independence is a consistent settled will.”

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Yousaf’s comments come as the SNP prepares for a special convention to discuss the path towards independence. His remarks will be scrutinised by both supporters and opponents, as the First Minister walks a fine line between wanting Holyrood to have the right to hold a referendum and actually holding one. Yousaf’s early days as First Minister have been challenging, with ongoing issues such as the arrest and release of the SNP’s chief executive, a legal row over Scotland’s gender reform legislation, and a dispute with the UK government over Scotland’s deposit return scheme.

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Jamie Cartwright

Jamie is a keen traveler, writer, and (English) teacher. A few years after finishing school in the East Mids, UK, he went traveling around South America and Asia. Several teaching and writing jobs, he found himself at The Thaiger where he mostly covers international news and events.

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