ASH Regan said it was time for “a Braveheart, not faint hearts” as she claimed her opponents wanted to “stay in the straitjacket of the UK”.

The Edinburgh MSP said she would achieve Scotland’s exit from the Union in the immediate future, if elected as she insisted the best thing for the county’s economy was independence.

She had previously challenged rival Kate Forbes’s plans for the economy, which would focus on economic growth, branding it “trickle-down economics”.

This was the theory embraced by the right in the 20th century, which posited that wealth would “trickle-down” from the top of society to the poorest – though it is though by most left-wing economists to be unsound.

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She said: “Trickle-down is a discredited economic policy which will not do anything for the communities in Scotland that are feeling left behind right now.

“These two candidates here want to stay in the straitjacket of the UK and Scotland cannot afford to stay in the UK any longer.

“We must get out of this Union and the best thing that we could do for the economy in Scotland is make sure that the Tories in London are not running it.”

Challenged on this by host Krishnan Guru-Murthy, who said independence was a “way off”, Regan insisted she would accelerate Scotland’s exit from the Union.

She said: “It’s not going to be a way off if I’m the leader of the SNP because I have a plan to get independence in the very short term.”

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But her opponents accused her of having no economic plans of her own. She said investing in infrastructure would improve Scotland’s finances – something Humza Yousaf said was not possible given the budget passed recently.

Earlier in the debate, she accused her opponents of being “quite content” with devolution.

She said: “If we’re going to go for a new leadership and I think this is a time for a Braveheart and not faint hearts.

“And when people tell you who they are and they tell you that they’re not going to do anything about independence and they’re quite content with devolution, then people should listen to that.”