HUMZA Yousaf has shared that some of his closest friends still need to be persuaded to support independence.

The First Minister appeared on the latest episode of The Rest is Politics podcast, hosted by former Downing Street director of communications Alastair Campbell and former Tory minister Rory Stewart.

The podcast, which regularly features interviews with senior politicians, hosted Yousaf discussing the prospect of an independent Scotland in the EU, his predecessors Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond, as well as the First Minister’s mental health struggles.

The SNP leader also told Campbell and Stewart that some of his friends still need persuaded on independence, “despite me trying to persuade them for 20 odd years”.

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He made the comments while speaking about how he ensures boundaries as a leader and “remains a normal, private human being”.

Yousaf said ultimately, his private life is non-existent, but one of the ways he creates a work/life balance is scheduling a time when his office cannot call him, and this is the “protected family time” in the week when he puts his daughter to bed.

Stewart suggested that as a leader of a political party and country, Yousaf would be much busier than people he grew up with and friends not involved in politics. He asked the First Minister how he creates space for them, and whether he has grown away from school and university friends.

Yousaf said: “So the friends I’ve got, a group of six, are the ones that I grew up with. We’ve known each other, some of us, for over 30 years and I don’t see them nearly as often as I’d like. I saw them over the Christmas holidays, which I made a point to do.”

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Campbell asked if they all shared his politics, which Yousaf replied, “some of them do, some of them didn’t vote for independence, and wouldn’t vote for independence, despite me trying to persuade them for 20 odd years”.

He added that most do support the idea of independence, but some still need “converted”.

Later, the trio touched on recent comments made by Yousaf on the word "national" in the name of the Scottish National Party. Campbell said he had previously asked both Salmond and Sturgeon on their views, especially when "portraying" that the party is "internationalist".

The former Downing Street director of communications added that he had "never quite understood why" the party doesn't change its name.

Yousaf said: "It's just such a strong brand is the honest answer. But also, having done lost of international engagement [...] nobody's ever sat me down and been confused about the fact that we're a centre-left progressive party.

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"Everybody's understood it, nobody has said 'oh by the way, what kind of nationalist are you?' and I've never had anybody from a far-right nationalist party attempt to reach out to us - because our policies are pretty self-evident.

"We're pro-migration, our social policies are progressive and to the left, and now we're led by a Muslim, so there's not really much dubiety about the progressive nature of our party."

He admitted that the word "nationalist" had "uncomfortable connotations, and there's no getting away from it" but highlighted that its never "practically" been an issue for its members or politicians.

When asked if the party could do with a rebrand after 17 years in power in Scotland, the party leader suggested he disagreed, and said: "I just think that the SNP brand is so strong, it's known, and so recognised and the party is going to be 90 years old."