THE SNP have been accused of having an independence strategy that is so unclear even their party leader can’t remember it after Humza Yousaf made a mistake during an interview.

The First Minister was speaking to STV on Tuesday evening when he was asked about the party’s General Election strategy and what would constitute a mandate to open independence negotiations.

Yousaf said: “If we win the General Election – that's my goal, of course, to win the General Election in Scotland – [we will] use that as a mandate to begin negotiating with a future UK government and how we give democratic effect to independence.”

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Asked if “win” means a majority of seats, Yousaf said: “Win means the most seats. That's what our conference, of course, backed in October last year.”

Yousaf added: “A ‘majority’ and ‘most seats’ are, of course, different.”

But the First Minister has been criticised because the SNP conference in October actually rejected his plan to use the “most seats” as a mandate for independence.

Instead, delegates voted to consider winning the “majority” of seats in Scotland as a mandate to open independence negotiations, a position he had himself backed ahead of the ballot.

There are currently 59 Westminster seats in Scotland, but boundary changes mean there will be two fewer, 57, at the next General Election. A majority would be 29 seats.

The National:

Alba Party general secretary Chris McEleny said: “The SNP now have a Rubik’s cube independence strategy. It has so many different aspects, caveats and explanations that even Humza Yousaf (above) cannot remember what it is.

“Now that the consented referendum policy that served the national movement well previously has been blocked as a result of the ill-fated venture to the UK Supreme Court, Alba Party believe that every election must be used as a mandate for Scottish independence. And further, the referendum proposed by Ash Regan on independence powers for the Scottish Parliament can get us past the constitutional roadblock.

“Alba are the only party with a viable political strategy to deliver Scottish independence and we are led by the only person that’s ever given Scots a democratic opportunity to vote for independence.”

Craig Hoy, the Scottish Tories’ chair, said: “Humza Yousaf and the SNP have made it abundantly clear they wish to turn the General Election into a proxy vote on independence.

“However, their plans are so extreme that the party’s own leader cannot even accurately tell Scots what he believes would give him a mandate to enter negotiations on breaking up the United Kingdom.

“The one thing Humza Yousaf is clear on is that their independence obsession will always be the number one priority for the SNP – and they are prepared to say anything to achieve it.”

An SNP spokesperson said: "The First Minister was clear about the need for the SNP to win the General Election in Scotland as the only way for Scotland’s voice to be heard, Scottish interests to be championed and further the cause of independence.

"The party united last autumn to agree a conference resolution on our independence strategy, including that winning a majority of Scottish seats is a mandate to negotiate for becoming an independent country – by definition, a majority of seats is always going to be the most. 

"We are heartened but not complacent by last week’s poll forecasting the SNP winning 40 seats in Scotland and making Scotland Tory-free by winning every single Tory held seat.”