The SNP is planning a special summit geared towards determining the next steps in Scotland’s independence campaign early next year.
The Democracy Scotland conference will aim to set out a “clear pathway” for a new vote on leaving the UK despite the Supreme Court blocking Holyrood’s plans to host a vote in October 2023, Nicola Sturgeon confirmed.
Details of what the event – which will take place at the Edinburgh International Conference Centre on March 19 – will entail have yet to be released.
Opponents branded the event a “diversion” and accused the party of using it to avoid scrutiny over a series of recently reported “scandals”.
But SNP business convener, Kirsten Oswald, said the courts ruling had “galvanised the Yes movement,” adding the party was looking to capitalise on the momentum by firmly establishing “a way forward”.
“The SNP’s Democracy Scotland Conference in March will set out a clear pathway to Scotland being able to express their view on our nation’s constitutional future,” she said.
“More and more people recognise independence not just as desirable but necessary.
“This is reflected in the past five polls which show a clear and sustained support for Scotland’s democratic rights and independence. This surge in support will be terrifying the Westminster establishment.
“People know that to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, escape Brexit, invest in the NHS and pay public sector workers a fair wage the Scottish Parliament needs the full powers of independence.”
She added: “The more that (Prime Minister Rishi) Sunak and (Labour leader Sir Keir) Starmer tell us we have no right to decide our own future, the more people in Scotland will stand up and demand that basic democratic right.”
The First Minister confirmed initial details of the conference in a Twitter post on Saturday.
She wrote: “The SNP Special Conference to discuss and decide the way forward to secure independence following UK Supreme Court decision will take place in Edinburgh on 19 March.”
It comes after a week in which Sturgeon faced questions over a personal loan of more than £100,000 provided to the SNP by her husband, Peter Murrell.
Scottish Conservative shadow constitution secretary Donald Cameron accused the SNP of being “tired” after 15 years in power, adding the timing would “jar with Scots”.
He said: “This needless diversion proves the SNP aren’t a party of government but are more obsessed with campaigning for independence.
“What they aren’t discussing is what’s best for Scotland — growing the economy and protecting public services. Fortifying our NHS and properly funding councils.
“And there won’t be a peep about the ‘missing’ £600,000 in donations, clearing up the mystery around Peter Murrell’s loan, or the growing split between Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership and its Westminster pack.”