HUMZA Yousaf is not ruling out a snap Holyrood election as a route to independence.

After telling The National in an exclusive interview that he would “absolutely consider” calling an early Holyrood election to test popular will for independence, the leadership hopeful repeated on The Sunday Show that he will “not take anything off the table”.

After both Kate Forbes and Ash Regan appeared on the BBC show with Martin Geissler, it was Yousaf’s turn in the hot seat.

He was questioned on his independence plans, the label of a continuity candidate, as well as if his family had ever used private healthcare.

The candidate was asked if he was actually considering a snap Holyrood election to win independence.

Yousaf said: “To win independence, we will use any means necessary, that is within a legal framework of course.”

The Health Secretary was grilled on who had been running the health service as the leadership contest had been heating up and he told the show that he had been working until 11pm at night to finish paperwork whilst attending SNP leadership hustings.

READ MORE: How SNP members at the trade union hustings reacted to the candidates' pitches

The minister was also asked if he or anyone in his family had used private healthcare to which he replied “No.” When pressed by presenter Geissler with “ever?”, Yousaf again said no.

Geissler began the interview by congratulating Yousaf on gaining endorsement from the Deputy First Minister John Swinney however, pointed out that his leadership race rivals have commented “the party hierarchy is panicking”.

The interviewer asked if his opponents were correct, to which Yousaf replied: “It’s a sign of strength, that somebody who is a giant of our movement, indisputable that he is seen as a titan of our movement, who has campaigned for independence for I think over four decades, has trusted me to build on our progressive agenda and also trust in me to deliver independence.

“I think anybody would bite John Swinney’s hand off for that endorsement, and of course, that coming just before the ballot drop in inboxes and letterboxes across the country, I would urge our members to listen to, as I say, a giant of our movement and get on that email, follow the link and put me down as First Minister."

Yousaf was further pressed on the continuity candidate label that rivals have put on his campaign. He rebutted by pointing out that not just parliamentarians back him, but members and the public as well.

The National: Yousaf was also questioned on his families healthcare useYousaf was also questioned on his families healthcare use (Image: PA)

Geissler then challenged that the lead Yousaf has within the party may not be enough and that the Health Secretary could lose the race on second preference votes.

Yousaf said: “Absolutely right - I’m certainly not complacent, if I was having this interview with you three weeks ago – I was behind, in terms of SNP voters and SNP members. You’ll know, as you’ve covered politics long enough Martin, that momentum is everything in a campaign, and that’s clearly with my campaign.

“I am my own man, and I will do things my own way. I have my own leadership approach, I have a lot of admiration for the excellent work that Nicola Sturgeon has done as First Minister, and she had a certain leadership approach – mine would be less inner circle, and more big tent harnessing the talent right across our party to make sure we are a team to deliver independence.

Yousaf also pointed out policies that would be different, and go further than his predecessor, such as taking a public equity stake in offshore wind leases and an empty homes fund.

“If people think continuing 15 years of winning election after election, 15 years of being the dominant force in Scottish politics, 15 years of growing support for independence is a bad legacy to build on, I’m afraid I’ve got a very different view.

READ MORE: Ash Regan: ‘People see me as the only hope for independence’

Giessler questioned what Yousaf would bring that as the candidate described, the two previous “titans” had not to sustain above 50% support for independence. Yousaf argued it’s about building upon that which Geissler replied: “With what? With vacant houses and wind farms, I mean you’ve got to come up with something more radical, don’t you?”

“No, it’s got to be about a vision. We’ve been far too long in the SNP, been afraid of falling into our opponent’s trap which has been stuck in this quagmire process. People out there, whether its in Dundee, Glasgow, our highlands and islands, and our rural communities – they don’t get inspired by talk of de facto referendums and section 30’s. They get inspired by a vision.

Yousaf repeated his plans to kickstart the Yes campaign to provide vision “from doorstep to doorstep”.