HUMZA Yousaf gave the first speech in a new series setting out the case for independence expanding on the Scottish Government’s white papers.

On Monday, the First Minister addressed a room full of businesspeople, academics and journalists as he set out a new approach to industrial strategy for Scotland post-independence.

As well as announcing how he would establish a new ministry to oversee new policy areas and the creation of crucial infrastructure, Yousaf also set out how capital projects would be funded - by using oil and gas revenues and borrowing.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf urges pro-independence voters to reject Labour

The speech, which is understood to be one of more to come in the coming months, gave more detail than the initial economic white papers in the Building a New Scotland series published under his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon.

Yousaf went further by not only committing to continue oil and gas production for a decade after a Yes vote, but also set out what industries this cash could be used to fund - from the space sector to green industries including offshore wind and carbon capture.

It was a clear pitch to the business and industries sector – also heavily courted by Scottish Labour and the Tories ahead of the looming election.

It's also a sector which Yousaf's critics accuse him of failing to speak to, with rebellious (and ambitious) SNP backbenchers causing headaches for him on the matter.

Successfully courting major business players could be a key way for Yousaf to see off any leadership challenges as polling indicates substantial seat losses at the upcoming election.

The National: Sir Brian Souter

With news of Yousaf meeting with Brian Souter (above) emerging last week, it paints a picture of a party leader keen to best his critics.

Yousaf also clearly sought to distance himself more from his predecessor Sturgeon  – who had moved party policy away to further commitments to oil and gas. 

It comes as the Tories in Westminster are legislating to ensure annual rounds of licensing in the North Sea, a move that has been routinely criticised for only benefitting fossil fuel companies, and not consumers or the attempts to tackle climate change.

The First Minister, on the other hand, insisted to The National that his plans would allow an independent Scotland to provide the funding to support the transition to renewables and to fund key infrastructure projects during the creation of a new state.

The National:

“What better use of that revenue, I think, than to help us create that net zero infrastructure and prepare for the transition?” he told us after the speech.

It sets a different approach to not just the Tories, but also Labour, who have repeatedly flip-flopped on green commitments and whose offer to Scotland is to be home to the headquarters of GB Energy, a publicly owned energy company of which there is little detail available.

During the 40-minute speech, Yousaf lamented the lack of investment in infrastructure under Westminster, comparing its approach to that of the US, China and the EU, and what Scotland’s potential could be if it had more control over the levers of power and ability to fund itself properly.

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The First Minister is clearly keen to go into the General Election with a focus on independence, and particularly its economic potential, as polling shows a continued decoupling between the movement and his party.

It’s not clear what the topic of the next speech will focus on - but with the General Election looming and all eyes on the economy, Yousaf will no doubt seek to set himself and his party further apart from the uninspiring policies of Westminster ... and see off any internal challengers at the same time.