Humza Yousaf reacts to Perthshire SNP MP Pete Wishart’s criticism of ‘Tory-free’ Scotland slogan

Humza Yousaf has defended his calls to make Scotland “Tory-free” at the next election after the slogan was criticised by Perthshire SNP MP Pete Wishart.

Veteran nationalist Mr Wishart disowned the first minister’s rallying cry on Sunday, insisting he will have “nothing to do” with it.

But speaking in Aberdeen, the SNP leader said his party’s longest-serving MP had used similar language before himself.

He told journalists today: “I love Pete, and of course he has used that phrase before himself.”

Mr Yousaf amplified the slogan during an SNP event in Perth on Saturday as he ramped up his party’s election campaign.

The Scottish Tories, who hold six seats in Scotland, have criticised the SNP leader’s remarks and accused him of “ugly rhetoric”.

The first minister said: “I make no apologies whatsoever for saying to people that there is a historic opportunity for Scotland to ensure that we don’t have a single Tory MP come the next general election.

Pete Wishart, MP for Perth and North Perthshire. Image: Steve MacDougall.

“They deserve nothing less than getting booted out of office given the misery that Tory MPs have heaped upon households in Scotland.”

The Tories are the main challengers in Mr Wishart’s Perthshire patch and came just 21 votes from unseating him in 2017.

The SNP MP said on Sunday: “Much as I will be doing everything possible to ensure that the Tories are kept out of Perth and Kinross-shire I won’t be using this ‘Tory free’ rhetoric as part of my campaign.”

He told The Courier he would run a campaign with a “respectful, inclusive agenda”, insisting voters who back the Tories “deserve to be represented and be respected”.

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser. Image: Andrew Cowan/Scottish Parliament.

Perthshire Tory MSP Murdo Fraser accused Mr Wishart of hypocrisy.

He said: “I’m not sure Pete will love Humza for pointing out that he speaks with a forked tongue on this issue.”

Mr Yousaf has tried to paint the next election as a straight battle between the SNP and Conservatives in most seats.

That is the case in much of the north-east. But across the central belt, the SNP faces a strong challenged from a resurgent Labour Party.

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