HUMZA Yousaf has insisted he will be the leader to deliver independence for Scotland in the next five years. 

During an intense grilling from the BBC's Laura Kuenssberg where he was quizzed about whether the SNP could ever achieve self-determination for the country, Yousaf was defiant and insisted he had "no doubt" he would be the one to take Scotland away from Westminster control.

He added support for independence was still "rock solid" despite a police investigation into the SNP's finances and was a "good base for us to build on".

Asked if he was "sorry" to SNP supporters for the "political mess" following the probe, Yousaf said: "What I can say is I will give every ounce of effort and energy I have as leader of this party, and in that they [SNP supporters] should be confident that despite having some of the most difficult weeks our party has probably faced, certainly in the modern era, that support for independence is still rock solid and a good base for us to build on.

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"I’ve got no doubt at all that I will be the leader that ensures Scotland becomes an independent nation."

Prior to this, the First Minister clarified that independence would be "front and centre" of the SNP’s General Election campaign.

He said that at the next General Election “very simply a vote for the SNP is going to be a vote for independence”.

He added it was "pretty obvious" independence was not currently the settled will of the Scottish people but still believed self-determination was achievable within five years.

The FM said: “I don’t want to be there or thereabouts, I want independence to be the consistent, settled will.

“At the moment, for example, it’s pretty obvious that independence is not the consistent, settled will of the Scottish people.”

Asked if it is realistic that Scotland would not be independent within five years, he said: “Not if I’ve got anything to do with it.”

Yousaf added he was prepared to do a deal with Keir Starmer in the case of a hung parliament at the next General Election but laid out this would require Labour to grant Scotland an independence referendum. 

He added: "If Labour do not want to co-operate with us, then we would make life very difficult for them.”

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The FM was also quizzed about the Deposit Return Scheme, which this week had to be put back to October 2025 following a UK Government intervention that demanded glass be removed from the scheme.

He said it was an example of how “devolution is becoming unworkable”, adding that the UK Government had sought to “sabotage” the scheme at the 11th hour.

Asked if the Scottish Government would pay compensation to businesses which had paid millions to prepare for a scheme which is now not going to happen, Yousaf said: “We don’t believe there’s a case for the Scottish Government to need to compensate because the action we’ve had to take is because of that 11th hour, last-minute intervention from the UK Government, which has meant that a Scottish scheme, unfortunately, isn’t viable.”