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Humza Yousaf said he is open to working with Labour should they win the general election – subject to certain conditions.

Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf has said he is “very willing” to work with the next Labour government if Sir Keir Starmer becomes prime minister.

The SNP leader said he was “absolutely sure” that his party would win the most seats in Scotland – despite some polls putting them neck and neck with Labour.

Mr Yousaf told the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg show that “support for independence is absolutely rock solid”.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar described his election plan as bizarre.

The first minister said: “Keir Starmer is 20 to 25% ahead in the polls, he is going to be the next prime minister of the United Kingdom.

“I don’t think you could point me to a single poll that doesn’t just show that isn’t the case, but you probably couldn’t even show me a single poll that suggests it is marginal.

“Keir Starmer does not need Scotland to win.”

He added that he had written to Sir Keir to invite him to Edinburgh for talks on how their parties could co-operate.

“I think there’s plenty we can work on,” Mr Yousaf said.

“There’ll be disagreements, the constitution perhaps being the obvious one, but I do think there’s plenty of areas we could work on.”

When asked about what policies areas would be covered, the SNP leader said Sir Keir should commit to scrapping the two-child benefit limit.

“In doing so, he would lift 250,000 children out of poverty across the UK, 15,000 children here in Scotland,” said Mr Yousaf.

“Let’s scrap the bedroom tax, which is keeping too many people in poverty.”

Independence vote

Ten years on from the Scottish independence referendum, Laura Kuenssberg asked Mr Yousaf if he accepted another vote was not going to happen any time soon.

The first minister denied that and said: “I want the SNP to win the general election to help to send a really strong message to Westminster that Scotland will not be ignored.”

Mr Yousaf, who succeeded Nicola Sturgeon as SNP leader and Scotland’s first minister in March 2023, also defended Scotland’s “progressive” tax system, despite Conservative claims that many Scots are now paying more than people in the rest of the UK

He said the SNP was asking the top 5% of earners “to pay a little more” so that policies such as free university education and childcare services could be provided.

Mr Yousaf said he believed people “will recognise that we’ve prioritised public services over tax cuts for the wealthy”.

Sir Keir Starmer and Anas Sarwar celebrated winning the Rutherglen by-election with new MP Michael Shanks in 2023

The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, hit back at what he called the SNP’s “completely chaotic messaging” on voting in the upcoming election.

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show, he said: “They seem to have gone in a matter of weeks from saying you don’t need to vote Labour because they can’t win in England to now saying you don’t need to vote for Labour because they can’t lose in England.

“Polls are going to narrow, polls are going to tighten. We could be months away from an election. That’s what happens in an election campaign, is that the argument gets more face to face.

“We should always believe we can still lose and we should also always believe that we don’t own any voters.

“How bizarre that you have the SNP saying that Scottish votes don’t matter. Every Scottish vote matters.”

Scottish Conservative party chairman Craig Hoy said: “This was another interview where Humza Yousaf confirmed independence will be page one, line one of the SNP manifesto.

“Instead of pursuing their obsession with breaking up the UK, the SNP should focus on the people’s real priorities: growing the economy to help Scotland’s ailing public services.

“The first minister once again refused to accept that his high-tax regime is preventing that – despite business groups warning repeatedly that the widening tax gap with the rest of the UK is deeply damaging our competitiveness and risks driving away key workers.”

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