Yousaf ‘commends’ Princess of Wales for revealing cancer diagnosis

First Minister Humza Yousaf said he “commended” the Princess of Wales for revealing her cancer diagnosis and said he hoped it would “encourage other people to come forward” and get checked.

The First Minister attended a rally to celebrate the SNP’s national council tax freeze in Greenock, Inverclyde, less than a week before the anniversary of becoming the party’s leader.

Mr Yousaf paid tribute to the Princess of Wales, who revealed her cancer diagnosis on Friday, and said: “My thoughts are very much with the Princess of Wales, but also with the Royal family.”

When asked by the PA news agency if disclosures from the Princess of Wales and the King about their cancer diagnoses’ could spark more people getting tested and put pressure on the NHS, Mr Yousaf said: “No, I’m certainly not worried.”

Mr Yousaf said: “I hope people do come forward if they’ve got any concerns about any aspects of the health including, of course, particularly cancers. We’ve invested in rapid cancer diagnostic services here in Scotland, in a number of health ward areas to try to improve cancer diagnosis.

“I commend King Charles and indeed the Princess of Wales for talking so openly about a cancer diagnosis. I hope it will encourage other people to come forward should they have any concerns about that.”

Speaking to around 50 activists who gathered outside Inverclyde Council’s building, Mr Yousaf said it was “the greatest honour” of his life to lead the SNP.

He praised grassroots activists for “climbing the tenements, putting the leaflets through doors, whatever the weather”, and said their role was “absolutely crucial” ahead of the General Election.

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View of Greenock, Inverclyde, where Humza Yousaf gave a speech to SNP activists (Jane Barlow/PA Wire).

Mr Yousaf added: “None of us gets elected without the drive and hard work of activists.”

Rebel regions Inverclyde Council and Argyll and Bute Council both initially refused to adopt the council tax freeze but later U-turned, sparking a “celebration” rally by the SNP, which was also attended by Ronnie Cowan, SNP MP for Inverclyde.

Mr Yousaf said he felt a decision by leader of Inverclyde Council, Labour councillor Stephen McCabe to increase council tax rates was driven by “spite” and “hate” of the SNP, and branded the policy U-turn “embarrassing”.

He urged Mr McCabe to “step aside and let the SNP group” run the council, adding: “They’ll happily run the council with a far better job than he is doing.”

However, Mr McCabe described the rally as “sad”, and wrote on wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter: “How sad that the First Minister of Scotland travelled all the way from Dundee to Greenock on a Saturday afternoon to stand outside a closed Council headquarters to get his photo taken.”

Speaking to the press, Mr Yousaf refused to comment on the future of the SNP’s campervan, currently impounded by Police Scotland due to Operation Branchform, an investigation into possible fraud which began in 2021.

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First Minister Humza Yousaf with Westminster candidates, local Hillhead SNP by-election candidate Malcolm McConnell and activists in Kelvingrove Park, Glasgow (Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

The SNP leader also refused to comment on former health secretary Michael Matheson, who stood down after an £11,000 bill was run up on a work-issue iPad while on holiday, which was initially paid by the taxpayer.

Mr Yousaf said he could not comment on a live police investigation, and added: “Of course, when it comes to other matters, obviously there’s ongoing processes at the parliament.”

Ahead of the visit, Mr Yousaf said: “In October last year I promised a national council tax freeze for households across Scotland and that is what the SNP is delivering.

“Despite Labour’s attempts to stop people in Inverclyde from receiving this support, I am delighted that we are succeeding in delivering it.

“Council tax bills will be effectively frozen in all 32 local authorities next year.

“Council tax bills in Scotland are already hundreds of pounds a year lower than they are in England and this fully-funded council tax freeze gives people even more relief whilst they grapple with increased costs.”