FIRST Minister Humza Yousaf said he would make “no apology” for Scotland’s higher taxes for the wealthy in a heated debate with Martin Geissler on the BBC.

Yousaf was interviewed on the Sunday Show following the SNP’s National Council in Perth with his first anniversary as the country’s leader coming up in a fortnight.

In a conversation about the challenges Yousaf had faced in his first year, Geissler grilled him on Scotland’s tax policy and asked if it was a “disincentive” to people investing in the country.

The Scottish Government announced the creation of a new higher-rate income tax bracket at the end of last year, meaning earnings between £75,001 and £125,140 are charged at 45%.

Asked if he would agree it was a disincentive said: “No I wouldn’t.”

Later in the interview, as Geissler highlighted the Scottish Fiscal Commission believe the tax policy is “performative” and would only raise £8 million, Yousaf said: “I make no apology for asking those who are in the top 5% of earners, like me on an First Minister ’s salary, [to pay] more so we can invest in our public services.

READ MORE: Laura Kuenssberg: Shadow minister 'doesn't know' status of Diane Abbott probe

“Ever since the SNP has been on this journey of progressive taxation, we’ve been told by our political opponents there will be a mass exodus of people from Scotland, but the facts don’t bear that out.

“If you look at the National Records of Scotland their facts show pretty clearly there’s a net in-migration to Scotland by almost 10,000.”

Yousaf was interrupted several times during the interview and at one stage got visibly irritated as he tried to suggest Scotland being independent would make it more economically successful, just like independent nations in Europe which are similar in size.

He said: “Let’s look at independent nations in Europe of Scotland’s size - Ireland, Norway, Austria, Denmark - why is it that these countries have a higher national income per head, has higher productivity than the UK…”

Yousaf then had to raise his voice as Geissler interrupted him adding: “And they don’t have half the assets that Scotland [does].

“Scotland has world class food and drink, it has world class universities, it has renewable potential, oil and gas, an incredibly talented and hard-working population and I could go on. With independence, am I confident we could be far more economically not just productive but successful than we currently are anchored to a broken Brexit Britain? Yes absolutely.”

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf leads tributes to SNP activist Gerry Fisher

As the First Minister argued independence would give Scotland the fiscal levers it requires to handle challenges in the global economy – the majority of which still lie at Westminster – Geissler suggested things could still be economically tricky in the first decade of independence.

But Yousaf hit back and said: “I disagree with your point. I’m making the point that from day one of independence we will have the majority of those levers and that makes a big difference in order to respond to the shocks of the global economy.”

Elsewhere in the interview, Yousaf vowed to visit “every single constituency” in Scotland during the SNP’s General Election campaign.

In Perth, Yousaf called Anas Sarwar “Labour’s branch manager” as he said the Scottish Labour leader would “bend the knee to Keir Starmer” despite Starmer’s repeated claim he would “stand up for Scotland”.

He also urged members to send a message to Scottish Tory MPs that “time is up” for the Conservatives and SNP “is coming for them”.