HUMZA Yousaf has appeared to endorse a de facto referendum strategy at the next General Election after previously saying he wasn’t as “wedded” to the idea as his predecessor.

During the SNP leadership campaign, Yousaf said he had some apprehensions about the strategy and pledged to listen to the membership.

“I have some concerns about using a Westminster General Election as a de facto referendum,” he said at the launch of his campaign in February.

“I’m not as wedded to it as the First Minister, that’s her preference.

“I’m not going to go in with a preference, I’m going to listen to what the membership has got to say.

“We need to roll up our sleeves on the why we need independence, and the how will become inevitable.”

However, in an e-mail to SNP members encouraging them to attend the party’s Independence Convention in Dundee on June 24, the First Minister appeared to have a more settled stance on the way forward for independence.

“It is my view that we must contest the general election on independence,” he said. “It is simple: a vote for the SNP will be a vote for independence.

“We are the party of independence and we must use every opportunity to move our country closer to that goal — by demonstrating the strength of support that exists among people across Scotland.”

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The Independence Convention has come in for some criticism from party members after the SNP revealed that it won’t “officially decide” an independence strategy at the event.

But the party’s depute leader, Keith Brown, said that a convention followed by a series of regional assemblies was the “right way to do it”.

The de facto referendum plan was floated by former first minister Nicola Sturgeon after the Supreme Court ruled in November last year that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for its own independence referendum.