All three Scottish National Party leadership candidates have predicted that Scotland can be an independent country within five years if they win the contest. Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf, and Kate Forbes were speaking as they faced each other in a BBC Scotland TV debate.
Mr Yousaf said he believed the country can and will be independent by 2028 in response to a question from an audience member.
Ms Regan and Ms Forbes both said they believed the same.
The leadership contest was sparked by Nicola Sturgeon's surprise announcement that she was quitting as both SNP leader and Scotland's first minister after eight years in the roles.
Recent polls have put support for independence at broadly the same level as it was when Ms Sturgeon succeeded Alex Salmond after the referendum in 2014, which saw Scottish voters reject independence by 55% to 45%.
That is despite the turbulence in UK politics in recent years that saw the country leave the EU despite Scotland voting overwhelmingly in favor of remaining and Boris Johnson's often chaotic time as prime minister.
The Supreme Court has also ruled that the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to hold a referendum without the agreement of the UK government - which has repeatedly made clear that it has no intention of granting formal consent through a Section 30 order.
Mr Yousaf, the health secretary who is the bookies favorite to win the contest and is widely viewed as being Ms Sturgeon's preferred candidate, told the Debate Night Special that he believed he could build sustained majority support for independence that would see those political obstacles disappear.
He added: I would want to be the one who delivers independence, but to do that you've got to stop talking about process and talk about policy.
We have got to inspire people with a vision for independence. We have to make sure that we're not obsessing about Section 30s and de facto referendums because people just don't get inspired by that.”
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