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Humza Yousaf warned plot to ditch monarchy to salvage SNP's independence dream is doomed

NewsHumza Yousaf warned plot to ditch monarchy to salvage SNP's independence dream is doomed

But polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice said that while plans to get rid of the monarchy may be popular with SNP members, they will not win over No voters to the independence cause.

He said support for the royals is lower in Scotland than the UK as a whole, but added the institution is still more popular than having a republic.

Prof Curtice highlighted how Mr Yousaf’s predecessors Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond took the view that the question of the monarchy was “not a battle that’s worth fighting”.

He told the Express: “The monarchy is still more popular than having a republic in Scotland, but it’s less popular in Scotland than it is across the UK as a whole.

“Basically there’s a fairly clear rank order – the monarchy is most popular in England, second most popular in Wales and least popular in Scotland.

“And among those people who would vote Yes, a majority would prefer a republic.

“But the strategy of the SNP hitherto has been that this is not a battle we necessarily want to fight.

“If we are going to win over more No voters, then arguing about the monarchy, at this stage at least, is not necessarily something that we’re going to do.

“Yousaf of course has declared his personal preference, although he is off to the Coronation now.

“If Scotland were ever to become independent, I suspect in the short term it will keep the monarchy and that in any referendum campaign in the immediate future the stance will be we’ll keep the monarchy for as long as Scotland want to keep it. But who knows where we might be in 20 years’ time.

“The view quite clearly of Salmond and Sturgeon was this is not a battle that’s worth fighting.

“Again you have to remember the context of the remarks. It’s probably true that a majority of SNP members would like to get rid of the monarchy. So if you’re in the middle of a leadership campaign, and it’s your personal view, you might say that.

“But that doesn’t necessarily mean to say that’s what you’re going to say in a referendum campaign.”

During the race to replace Nicola Sturgeon, Mr Yousaf suggested a five-year timeline post-independence for a decision on scrapping the monarchy – which has a close connection to Scotland.

He told The National: “Let’s also talk about things like monarchy. I don’t know why we should be shy about that, I don’t think we should be. I’ve been very clear, I’m a Republican. That’s never been anything I’ve hidden.

“And it’s not an immediate priority, I accept that. But when we’re independent, we’ll need to get our central bank up and running, we’ll need to transition to a new Scottish currency, which I’ve been keen to do as quickly as possible.

“But let’s absolutely within the first five years consider whether or not we should move away from having a monarchy into an elected head of state.”

At the time, the Scottish Tories accused Mr Yousaf of “shamelessly pandering to the republican base of the SNP support”.

Scottish Conservative MSP Sharon Dowey said: “The monarchy remains one of our most loved and respected institutions, as shown by the outpouring of grief when Her Majesty The Queen passed away last year.

“By pushing to scrap a symbol of our United Kingdom, it seems like Humza Yousaf is trying to divide people even more than Nicola Sturgeon did.

“The Health Secretary should be focusing on the crisis on his watch in the NHS, rather than talking up his anti-monarchy views.”

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