WITH the SNP leadership campaign well under way, and candidates having set out fresh details, we sat down with hopeful Humza Yousaf to dig into his plans for regional assemblies, taxation and much more.

It comes after we spoke in depth with fellow hopefuls Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, with the full interviews available on YouTube and Spotify.

In the interview, Yousaf pledges that within the first five years of independence, Scotland will consider ditching the monarchy. You can read the second half of the Q&A below – with part one published in yesterday’s Sunday National.

Reporter: There was some interesting chat about taxation in the hustings, particularly Kate Forbes suggesting she would favour moving away from a progressive taxation model. I’m interested to know what you think about that. How do you feel about progressive taxation? How important is that to you on Scotland’s economy?

Humza Yousaf: I think it’s vital. If we want to invest in our public services, we have to, then progressive taxation has got to be a significant part of the formula.

We know that progressive taxation, this time round, for example, in 23/24, is going to allow the Scottish Government to invest an extra billion pounds into the health service. That’s money that’s going to go into the pockets of nurses, paramedics, porters, it’s going to go right across NHS staff. And it’s going to help us with our with our NHS recovery.

We could not do that if we did not have progressive taxation, where people who earn more – like government ministers – pay more. And it should always be thus.

We also have to, of course, grow our revenue base. And that’s where it’s really important we give as much support to those who are not able to work at the moment. Provide them with assistance around childcare, for example. That’s one of my flagship policies, if we do that, we get them into work. It’s good for them, of course, it’s good for the economy, good for our tax receipts, as well.

So progressive taxation for me is actually a red line. And I believe that we have to continue on the journey of progressive taxation. And there’s always a balance, I think we’ve got the balance right I have to say for 23/24.

Reporter: So when you were all discussing that during last week’s Channel 4 debate, Krishnan Guru-Murthy said Kate was sounding like Liz Truss. Do you agree, do you think her policy sounds like Liz Truss’s?

Yousaf: I have said from the very beginning of this campaign that I’m not going to personally attack. I’ve said we should absolutely be robust and challenge each other on policy. And we’ve seen some of that.

But I’m really not going to start going into name-calling and calling somebody Liz Truss, I think it’s quite an insult. So I’m not going to do that to Kate.

But she has said that her condition for the Greens remaining in government is economic prosperity. For me, it’s the wellbeing economy. That’s our clear dividing line between the two of us.

And I would say our membership voted by almost 95% on the Bute House Agreement, which chose to centre the wellbeing economy – that fairness, happiness, health, they are given equal weight, if not more weight.

Not economic prosperity for its own sake, not for the sake of simply gleaning profits for shareholders, but actually putting that profit back into the hands of people investing in our society.

Reporter: And the wellbeing economy. That’s something Believe in Scotland have worked on quite a lot. I understand that they’ve also been really keen to push whoever the next first minister is on this idea of a pro-independence GERS fingers, because that’s been promised from two finance secretaries and it hasn’t emerged.

Is that something that you’re interested in pursuing? Is that something that you can commit to producing if you became first minister?

Yousaf: I can, I will. Absolutely. Because the GERS figures we receive at the moment demonstrate how challenging our position is within the Union – that’s the Union dividend that we’re facing. I think it’s a really good idea.

I think Believe in Scotland stuff is just brilliant. You saw the latest poll that came out last year, if we talk about that wellbeing economy, inspire people about quality of life that they can have, that the economy can work for the people not the other way around.

If we can get that support for independence, if we get that consistency, that’s what we need to win our independence. Just that one policy alone, which is a win-win. So it’s a win for the economy, it’s a win for people, it’s a win for the independence cause, so I’m grateful for the work of Believe in Scotland.

Reporter: What will the regional assemblies be looking at, in addition to independence?

Yousaf: I think the regional assemblies should discuss some issues around what kind of Scotland we want to see. Let’s also talk about things like monarchy. I don’t know why we should be shy about that, I don’t think we should be. I’ve been very clear, I’m a republican. That’s never been anything I’ve hidden.

And it’s not an immediate priority, I accept that. But when we’re independent, we’ll need to get our central bank up and running, we’ll need to transition to a new Scottish currency, which I’ve been keen to do as quickly as possible. But let’s absolutely within the first five years consider whether or not we should move away from having a monarchy into an elected head of state.

Reporter: That’s interesting, especially with Prince Edward being given the title of Duke of Edinburgh – how do you feel about that?

Yousaf: Look, royals have every opportunity to do as they wish. But I consider myself first and foremost, a citizen, not a subject. And as I say, it’s not the immediate priority. I do accept that. But I do think it’s important that within the first few years of independence that we have that discussion.

Reporter: I will finish up this final question that emerged in the newspapers, which is that there are suggestions that UK Government officials should shadow Scottish ministers on their travels overseas. Are you concerned by that?

Yousaf: I’m not surprised they’re feart because whenever we travel the world, the response to Scotland as a good global citizen is met with warmth. So I’m sure they’ll be keeping their beady eyes on us.

Of course, they shouldn’t. Scotland’s food and drink, Scotland’s ambition on climate change, Scotland’s international development contribution, as I say, has been received not just with warmth, but it really marks us out as a global citizen, quite a stark contrast often to the isolationist approach that UK Government take.

So I’ve got no surprise that they want to keep their eye on us. But they won’t deter us from that positive message of what Scotland can be under devolution, what we aspire to be with the full powers of independence.