Humza Yousaf suggested the SNP’s position to retain the Monarchy in an independent Scotland was simply an attempt to secure more support for breaking up the UK.
Appearing on the BBC’s Question Time programme, Mr Yousaf said: “Most people in the SNP – it would hardly be a surprise to you – would at some point like to see our head of state elected. But for the purpose of independence we said we would keep the Queen as head of state.”
Mr Yousaf is close to Nicola Sturgeon and is currently her Europe Minister. He is tipped for a big job when the SNP leader appoints her new Cabinet next week. He has also been spoken of as a potential successor to Ms Sturgeon.
Given the Queen’s popularity in Scotland, the SNP leadership recognised that calling for the abolition of the Monarchy was unlikely to be vote winner.
Therefore, the SNP’s independence White Paper, published ahead of the 2014 poll, said: “On independence Scotland will be a constitutional monarchy, continuing the Union of the Crowns that dates back to 1603, pre-dating the Union of the Parliaments by over one hundred years. On independence in 2016, Her Majesty the Queen will be head of state.”
The SNP’s opponents were angered by Mr Yousaf’s remarks.
Labour’s Shadow Scottish Secretary Ian Murray said: “Humza Yousaf should clarify his comments on the monarchy, as it looks like his party’s support for the Queen is a completely transparent attempt to win votes for independence. If that is the case, people will see right through it now, just as they did in 2014 where we voted to stay in the United Kingdom. It looks like the normally smooth talking Mr Yousaf may have let the cat out of the bag.”
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw added: “It was suspected that the SNP’s position on the Monarchy was a conceited attempt to secure Yes votes. Now one of its most senior MSPs has confirmed it.
“If most people in the SNP do want to abolish the Monarchy, that would put them very much at odds with the views of the people of Scotland.”