HUMZA Yousaf has said he does not agree with one of his Holyrood backers’ call for independence campaigning to be stepped “down a gear”.

Ben Macpherson made the case for a gradualist approach to independence in a column for Scotland on Sunday, saying the country was not yet ready to leave the Union for good.

The Health Secretary, currently campaigning to be the next leader of the SNP, has distanced himself from his supporter’s vision, pledging to “never put independence on the backburner”.

Macpherson caused controversy among some sections of the Yes movement with his call for the SNP to tone down its independence campaigning.

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But he was lauded by others for setting out what they described as a more credible strategy.

Asked for his response to the piece, Yousaf said: “I don’t agree with the approach set out.

“I will never put independence on the backburner.

“In the face of the Tory cost-of-living crisis and Westminster’s attacks on Scotland’s democracy, the need for independence is more urgent now than ever before.

“Be in no doubt, as SNP leader and Scotland’s next First Minister, I will take the fight to Westminster by kickstarting the Yes campaign in my first week in office, mobilising the wider Yes movement.”

In response to Macpherson’s calls for independence campaigning to be stepped “down a gear”, Yousaf instead said he would put the Scottish Government into “fifth gear” to make the case for Scotland’s exit from the Union.

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He added: “And I will put government into fifth gear to deliver our prospectus for independence, so that we can arm our activists with the material they need, with the facts and figures required to persuade people to back our vision of a socially just independent nation.

“I will, with urgency, restart, re-energise and grow our Yes movement, I will work day and night to ensure we gain our independence.

"We owe nothing less to ourselves, to our children, and future generations to come.”