Scotland could remove King Charles III as head of state, SNP leadership candidate says

Humza Yousaf says the switch to an elected head could be made within five years of independence

SNP leadership candidate Humza Yousaf during a visit to the Whitfield Health Centre in Dundee. PA
Beta V.1.0 - Powered by automated translation

An independent Scotland could remove King Charles III as head of state, Scottish National Party leadership candidate Humza Yousaf has said.

Mr Yousaf said the switch to an elected head could be made within five years of independence.

In an interview with the Scottish daily The National, he said regional assemblies should begin speaking about “what kind of Scotland we want to see”.

“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,” said Mr Yousaf, who is a self-confessed republican.

“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.”

Mr Yousaf is one of three leadership candidates in the running in the two-week race to replace Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP and First Minister.

A recent poll compared Mr Yousaf to fellow contenders Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, which found a majority of those surveyed believe all three would be worse than Ms Sturgeon.

Ms Forbes was rated best, with 17 per cent saying she would be better than Ms Sturgeon, but 33 per cent said she would be worse.

A further 21 per cent said there would be little change between administrations, while 28 per cent said they were not sure.

Ms Regan was the next best rated, with only 8 per cent thinking she would be a better first minister, compared to 38 per cent who said she would be worse and 35 per cent who were unsure.

Mr Yousaf, who has been described by some in the party as the establishment candidate, is viewed as the worst option by the public when compared to Ms Sturgeon, with only 6 per cent believing he would be better than Ms Sturgeon and 46 per cent saying he would be worse.

Speaking after a debate involving all three candidates, Mr Yousaf said: “I've got a tremendous amount of respect for both my fellow colleagues in this race.

“Ballots have now come out, the majority of members, I think, are likely to end up voting quite early so these TV debates are really important.”

He said polling figures showed his support had “dramatically increased” among SNP voters, while Ms Forbes's had moved in the other direction.

Acknowledging that his and his opponents' approval ratings are a long way behind that of Mr Sturgeon, he said: “What we're trying to do is build upon that legacy.

“In three weeks, I've also quadrupled my support among the Scottish public.

“If I've been able to do that in three weeks, I believe that bodes well for the next three months and even the next three years.”

Ms Sturgeon resigned as first minister in February after more than eight years in the role, saying she knew in “her head and in her heart” it was time to go and that the job had taken its toll on her as a human being.

She added that she believed the cause of Scottish independence would be better served with someone new leading her party.

The ballot to select her successor closes at noon on March 27.

Updated: March 14, 2023, 10:32 PM