SCOTLAND’S Minister for Independence hit back at a BBC suggestion over the SNP’s “Tory-free” General Election message.

Speaking on Saturday, Humza Yousaf addressed SNP activists and used the phrase multiple times, telling Scottish Tory MPs “the SNP is coming for you”.

The phrase has led to some debate with Pete Wishart – an MP since 2001 – taking to Twitter/X on Sunday to say he would not be using the messaging.

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Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland programme, host Gary Robertson told Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn: “This is not about getting rid of the Tories. This is more than this. You’re talking about Scotland being a ‘Tory-free’ zone.

“So you’re suggesting that those who vote Tory shouldn’t have anyone to vote for.”

Hepburn hit back at the question, saying “most people will understand that’s not what we are saying”.

He continue: “What we’re saying is this is an opportunity to get rid of all Tory MPs in Scotland.

“I think most people understand that when we talk about making Scotland Tory free that is precisely what we’re referring to.”

Robertson then asked why people who voted Tory should be “disenfranchised” to which Hepburn replied: “Well we have an electoral system where we’ll have 57 seats, we’ll be electing 57 MPs and what we’re standing on is a platform wanting to win all those seats but there’s an opportunity here to make sure there are no Tory MPs in Scotland.

“Now that’s the system that we have, that’s the opportunity we have here in Scotland and people can achieve that by voting SNP.”

The minister refused to be drawn on Wishart saying he wouldn’t use the rhetoric and instead said he would be focused on the election campaign and “returning as many SNP MPs as possible”.

He said he was “comfortable” with the party’s message and again said that encouraging people to vote SNP was his priority.

Moving independence forward

Hepburn was also asked why voting for the SNP would move the cause of independence forward.

He said: “Well you only need to look at the opinion polls Gary. Independence is frequently ahead in the opinion polls, certainly around 50/50 so we’re in a very strong position.

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“That only happens when the SNP advances the case and makes the case and we will continue to seek to win that case.”

Asked if independence was closer now than in 2016, Hepburn said more people showing support was an indication independence was moving in the right direction.

At the beginning of February, an Ipsos poll showed support for Yes was sitting at 53 per cent.