Humza Yousaf requests indyref2 in Rishi Sunak’s first fight

Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf

Humza Yousaf used his first meeting with the PM to ask for the power to hold a referendum on independence, despite police investigations into the SNP.

The new prime minister told Rishi Sunak he expected him to “respect the democratic wishes” of the Scottish Parliament by transferring powers to allow for a parting vote.

But the Prime Minister paid little attention to it, telling Yousaf to instead work with the British government to tackle the cost-of-living crisis with a “relentless and focused approach”.

Mr. Yousaf also used his first face-to-face meeting as Prime Minister with Mr. Sunak to protest the Foreign Minister’s crackdown on SNP ministers by using the meetings with overseas governments to promote independence and attack the Brexit.

The Telegraph reported last month that James Cleverly had written to British embassies to remind them that a British diplomat should be present at meetings between SNP ministers and foreign governments.

Whitehall insiders have highlighted concerns that the Scottish government is using the resources and relationships of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office to organize the meetings, only to use them to talk to Britain.

Also, last week, Mr Yousaf raised Prime Minister Lord Frost’s request to The Telegraph that some devolved powers be revoked, despite not being a cabinet minister.

The 20-minute “informal” meeting was held in the Prime Minister’s office in the Commons at around 6.00pm. Yousaf is expected to meet the SNP’s Westminster group on Tuesday before returning to Scotland.

The explosive political fallout around the police investigation into the party’s finances is likely to dominate discussions with its lawmakers.

Mr Yousaf has called for referendum powers in his talks with the PM despite Mike Russell, chairman of the SNP, saying the party is facing its biggest crisis in 50 years and independence cannot be achieved ‘right now’.

Referring to the legislative device being used to transfer powers for a referendum, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister said he had “made it clear that he expects the Prime Minister to respect the democratic wishes of the Scottish Parliament by granting a Section 30 ordinance”.

The spokesperson also said: “The Prime Minister has expressed concern at the UK Government’s attacks on devolution, including the Foreign Secretary’s clumsy intervention on the Scottish Government’s activity abroad and comments on Lord Frost’s devolution.”

Among other topics raised was a request from the Scottish Government for its deposit return scheme on drink containers to receive an exemption from the Internal Market Act, meaning it would apply to products imported from the rest of the UK .

Mr Yousaf protested a 10.1 per cent increase in the duty on Scotch whiskey and “was delighted that the Prime Minister has committed to fairness”, adding: “Now he has to stick with it”.

Downing Street insiders said the Prime Minister briefed Yousaf on the situation in Sudan and updated him on the “UK Government’s work to deliver on people’s priorities across the UK”.

Mr Sunak reaffirmed his commitment to support people with living costs and asked the Scottish Government to “help amplify this important support”.

Sources close to the Prime Minister said that “he also reiterated the need for all levels of government to work together on these priorities, with an unceasing and focused approach”.

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