THE SNP’s virtual national conference was warned by the Health and Social Care Secretary that Scotland’s NHS is under attack from the Tory government and that independence is the only way to protect our health service.

Humza Yousaf told the conference that the Tories will agree to anything to justify the economic damage imposed by Brexit, including undermining Scotland’s NHS in trade deals with other countries.

He accused the UK Government of not respecting devolution and suggested they would try to interfere with the Scottish NHS.

Referencing the UK Internal Market Act brought forward in the aftermath of Brexit, Yousaf said the UK Government was “trying to make it easier to do trade deals that could include how the NHS operates”.

All the news and updates from Sunday at SNP conference

Addressing the conference, Yousaf said: “The Tories say they can be trusted to protect our NHS in any trade deals – no they can't. They have so spectacularly damaged the economy with Brexit they’ll agree to just about anything to get a deal.

“In fact, just this week it emerged that so desperate to do a trade deal with Australia that they jettisoned vital environmental protections. Do you really believe that they won’t sell out the NHS at the first chance they get?

“Never forget it was former Tory prime minister John Major who said of Boris Johnson and his cronies that ‘the NHS is about as safe with them as a pet hamster would be with a hungry python’. I think he's understating it.

“If we are truly going to protect our NHS from the worst intentions of a Tory government desperate to do trade deals then there's only one solution.

“We need independence to ensure that never again can the actions of a Tory government - that we did not vote for – jeopardise our NHS. That’s why we will give a choice to the people of Scotland.

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“Do you want to protect our precious NHS for the future with independence, or do you want to just hope, cross our fingers that the Tories won’t throw our health service into a trade deal at the first chance they get.

“Conference, I choose an independent future where our NHS is protected and invested in. And it’s a future I think the people of Scotland will choose too.”