The UK government appears determined to block the new Scottish leadership from holding a new independence referendum.
UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak rejected new Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf’s call for a new independence referendum on Monday, right after the former health secretary became the Scottish National Party (SNP) new leader and Nicola Sturgeon’s successor.
According to a statement made by Sunak’s spokesperson, both Scottish and British people as a whole want politicians who will “focus on the issues that matter most to them: reducing inflation, dealing with the cost of living crisis and reducing waiting time in the public health system”.
Yousaf was officially elected by a majority of Scottish MPs on Tuesday, after beating SNP rival Kate Forbes by 52 per cent to 48 per cent of the vote on Monday. His name will be then submitted to King Charles and a formal session to swear him into office is expected at the Court of Session in Edinburgh on Wednesday.
He's the first minister from an ethnic minority and the first Muslim to become the leader of a major political party in the UK. He promised to work together with his rival candidates, saying: “We will be the team, we will be the generation that delivers independence for Scotland.”
But Yousaf is facing an uphill battle, as a new independence referendum is unlikely to happen with the UK government’s declared opposition and stagnating support for the cause among Scottish voters.
In his victory speech on Monday, Yousaf said: “To those in Scotland who don’t quite yet share that passion that I do for independence, I will aim to earn your trust by continuing to ensure that we govern well [and] focusing on the priorities that matter to all of us.”
Yousaf, who’ll also become Scotland’s youngest leader ever, has vowed to continue Sturgeon’s policies, including fighting back the UK government’s block of Holyrood’s gender recognition bill and bolstering the cause for independence. But many have raised concerns over Yousaf’s alleged lack of charisma compared to his predecessor Sturgeon, which would make it harder for him to swerve support for Scottish independence.