FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf has revealed that he has had discussions with MSPs from Unionist parties who are sympathetic to the cause of independence, adding it was “mainly from Labour”.

Speaking during a wide ranging interview at Iain Dale’s All Talk show at the Edinburgh Fringe, the FM said that if Alba wanted to unite the Yes movement they should stop “attacking the SNP” in their press releases and focus on countering disinformation about independence.

He insisted that both pro-independence parties are “on the same side” as he appealed to party leader Alex Salmond to row back on the attacks.

It comes as a war of words between Salmond and former first Nicola Sturgeon escalated at the Fringe over whether or not a reconciliation would be possible for the pair.

READ MORE: Ultra-Unionist stops First Minister's Fringe show with 'anti-white' claim

Elsewhere, Yousaf also said he believed it was “right” that Angus MacNeil had been expelled from the SNP.

The FM also reiterated his support for the Bute House Agreement with the Scottish Greens, accused the Scotland Office of using any “wedge issue” they could find to disrupt the Scottish Government’s work, and became emotional while talking about being unable to protect his young daughter from racism.

We told how the FM’s appearance was interrupted three times by hecklers - including one who accused Yousaf of being “bigoted” over his previous comments regarding racism.

Yousaf (pictured below) was asked by an audience member if he had ever had discussions with MSPs from Labour, the Tories or LibDems who are “sympathetic or even supportive of Scottish independence”.

The National:

“I have,” the FM said, laughing.

“I was just about to say I won’t name them, mainly from Labour, I’ve not met anyone from the Conservatives…”

After a short interruption from climate campaigners over oil and gas licences, the FM added: “I’ve had [discussions] with Labour politicians in the past about their support for independence and those that could be persuaded, but never the Conservatives.

“That’s all I was going to say, I’m not going to name them.”

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil expelled from SNP after row with chief whip

Scottish Labour have been contacted for comment.

During the lengthy interview, the FM was asked how he would unite the independence movement, and if getting Alba members to rejoin the SNP would be the “biggest symbol of reuniting the independence movement”.

“Anybody from Alba wants to join the SNP, I’m sure we’ll consider their application in due course,” the FM said.

“What I would say to Alex [Salmond] and I’ve not had a chance to speak to him about this, but if Alba wanted to unite the Yes movement and they want to show they’re really serious about that, all I would say to them is this, 90% of your press releases seem to be attacking the SNP and we’re the largest vehicle, we are the vehicle that will deliver independence.

The National: The FM called on Salmond to row back on his attacks on the SNPThe FM called on Salmond to row back on his attacks on the SNP (Image: PA)

“For all the other groups that are there, they’re important, they have an absolutely clear role, but the SNP is inarguably the largest vehicle for independence, and if the SNP is not at its strongest, or if its being attacked, then I’m afraid there won’t be progress in advancing independence.

“So I say to Alba in particular, and even to Alex, don’t spend most of your time attacking us, we’re on the same side here.”

The FM added that pro-independence parties should be “aiming our attacks” at those who oppose independence and who share disinformation about it.

READ MORE: Asylum seekers removed from Bibby Stockholm over Legionella fears

Asked how he would convince people to vote for independence to fund a “profitable state without crash or turmoil”, the FM said the key was to be “honest with people”.

He explained: “I always say to people when it comes to independence, which of course I believe in wholeheartedly, doesn't mean that somehow there will be rivers of milk and honey and the manna will fall from the sky, that there won't be any problems or challenges.

“Of course there will be, like there is in any other country.

The National:

“The differences that we will literally have the economic, monetary, fiscal levers and the other levers at our hands to be able to address some of the shocks and the difficulties that any nation faces.”

The FM added that as a country with oil and gas, huge renewable potential and world class universities there are “many people looking to take advantage of that”.

Yousaf said that people would “give their teeth” for the resources that Scotland has at its disposal, including the food and drink industry.