THE First Minister has said that Rishi Sunak chose to “cut short” their recent meeting as he pledged to continue to ask the Prime Minister to grant Scotland an independence referendum.

Speaking at the Scottish Tory Party conference in Glasgow on Friday, Sunak dubbed the Scottish Parliament a “devolved assembly”.

He spoke just half an hour after the resignation of Richard Sharp as chairman of the BBC before taking aim at Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

“All this talk of needing any more powers is pretty normal, right, because the SNP and Scottish Government don’t even use the powers they already have, so we should stop talking about any more.

“What we need to do is hold them to account, as we’re all doing”, the Prime Minister said.

Asked by journalist Alan Smith about the PM’s comments while out on the campaign trail today, the First Minister said: “Let’s not mince our words, they [the Tories] want to roll back devolution. We heard that from Lord Frost, we see that from their undermining of devolution through the use of their Westminster veto through Section 35.

“The Conservatives are determined, determined to undermine devolution every step of the way so hardly a surprise that Rishi Sunak doesn’t want to talk about further powers.”

He said Scotland’s ability to tackle the “big issues” was being hampered by the Westminster Government.

The meeting

Yousaf laughed off a suggestion that Rishi Sunak was “firm” with him when it came to independence.

He said: “If that was his ‘firm’ I would hate to see how soft he was. He barely mentioned or responded back to my very firm request of him of a Section 30 order.

“In fact I said I wouldn’t stop asking him for a Section 30 every time we spoke or every time we met.

“I have to say first and foremost of course the Prime Minister chose to cut the meeting short and that was up to him, that’s his prerogative to do so but it was very, very clear to me that the Conservative Government has no interest in doing anything other than undermining devolution.”

Campaign trail

Yousaf was out campaigning in Dundee as part of his party’s National Campaign Day having called on all party members to join him on doorsteps across the country.

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Although he admitted there were “challenges” ahead and that “support for the SNP is still remarkably strong”.

He said: “I was on the doors for well over an hour earlier on and not a single person that I spoke to mentioned the SNP’s membership numbers or auditors.”

Instead, he said the focus was on the cost of living crisis and investment in the NHS and that although he was committed to “transparency” in the party, this would not distract from other issues facing the country.

“I don’t think myself, Kate or Ash knew what was coming. None of us had the crystal ball but when you’re a leader you have to react and take decisive action”, Yousaf said.

He added he was working hard to “improve the governance of the party”.

No 10 has been approached for comment.