HUMZA Yousaf has said he would be “open” to directly intervening in the efforts to re-establish a ferry link between Scotland and mainland Europe if he becomes first minister.

The Health Secretary’s comments come after one of his rivals in the race, Finance Secretary Kate Forbes, said she would be “happy to engage directly with the Flanders government” about getting a ferry link between Scotland and Belgium up and running.

READ MORE: Kate Forbes doesn't want SNP leadership race to be re-run

Asked if he would take similar action if it is him that is elected SNP leader and first minister, Yousaf told The National: “I would certainly be open to it. I think there’s a good argument for having that ferry link there.

He went on: “I remember exploring it when I was transport minister. The challenge will always be its financial viability, therefore obviously working with commercial partners to see if it’s financially viable.

“I think a ferry route between Scotland and Europe is absolutely worth exploring.”

SNP MP Douglas Chapman, who has been involved with the talks aiming at getting the Rosyth to Zeebrugge ferry back online, has said it wouldn’t take much to get a deal over the line.

He added: “This has been a very frustrating process as there is currently a great ship available and we continue to get messages of support from haulage companies, exporters, potential customers and those in the tourist industry who see the obvious potential in the service being re-instated.”

In June 2022, a statement of intent released by DFDS and Ptarmigan Shipping said the firms had “signed an agreement with the intention to further investigate the possibility for a new ferry route between Rosyth and Zeebrugge with a target date being early 2023 for freight”.

It added: “This is all subject to the support we can get from the market and stakeholders, which will be our focus during the next few months. A further study is being carried out regarding the passenger business.”