SNP overwhelmingly backs Humza Yousaf's independence strategy 

The Scottish Government will immediately try to begin independence negotiations with Westminster if it returns a majority of MPs at the next general election.

SNP overwhelmingly backs Humza Yousaf’s Scottish independence strategy  Getty Images

The SNP will try to immediately begin independence negotiations with the UK Government if it wins a majority of the Scottish seats at the next UK general election.

Members at the annual party conference in Aberdeen overwhelmingly passed the motion on Sunday afternoon which was brought forward by Humza Yousaf and Stephen Flynn.

It means the First Minister would need to return at least 29 MPs to press for talks to begin. The party currently accounts for 43 of Scotland’s 59 Westminster seats.

The resolution states that the party would then publish a paper titled “Withdrawal from Westminster – a New Partnership Agreement” detailing the Scottish Government’s terms for independence negotiations in the event it won the most House of Commons seats.

That would go alongside a draft legal text on the transfer of powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament necessary to prepare for independence.

The Scottish Government would then ”conduct a nationwide consultation on a draft interim constitution, which would be the founding document of an independent Scotland” and prepare to rejoin the EU.

The SNP is planning on using the next general election as a mandate for an independent referendum.Getty Images

The First Minister said “page one, line one” of the SNP’s manifesto would make clear that a vote for the party is a vote for independence.

The strategy has been dismissed by the UK Government which has continually denied the Scottish Government the powers to hold an independence referendum.

SNP members overwhelmingly rejected an amendment requiring the party to win the majority of the votes – instead of seats – to begin negotiations.

The SNP leader described that argument as a “trap that no other party sets itself to win”.

That amendment was put forward by veteran SNP MP Pete Wishart who said if Westminster “constantly say no to us it’s time to believe them”.

He said it is “time to stop asking and start asserting”.

Party members overwhelmingly passed an amendment which will see the SNP “demand the permanent transfer of legal power to the Scottish Parliament to determine how Scotland is governed, including the transfer of power to enable it to legislate for a referendum”.

The First Minister claimed that “Westminster is running scared and denying democracy”.

He said: “Westminster is denying Scotland a democratic referendum – that tells you precisely who fears democracy and no wonder.”

Westminster has repeatedly rejected the SNP's calls for another Scottish independence referendum.iStock

But he added: “Being honest the fact is we have hit a Westminster roadblock, so if they are going to deny us a referendum let us use the next general election to put independence front and centre.”

He went on: “While setting our Westminster goal as winning a majority of seats…if we win that majority that will be our mandate to begin negotiations with the UK Government of how to put into democratic effect the decision of the Scottish people.”

His comments came as he insisted the need for Scotland to become independent had never “been more urgent” as people struggle amid the cost-of-living crisis.

“Now is the time to inspire people to show them the better country we can build with the powers of independence,” the SNP leader said.

The Scottish Conservatives said the SNP was choosing to pursue independence over the country’s “real priorities”.

Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: “This confirms that the SNP are hellbent on using the next general election as a proxy referendum. They will always put their relentless pursuit of independence above everything else.

“They have agreed to launch another independence campaign by the end of this year and are seeking to put independence for Scotland on the ballot paper.

“Humza Yousaf and the SNP are committed to wasting more taxpayers’ money on independence, rather than addressing the real priorities of Scotland.

“Our country cannot afford another five years of the SNP’s constitutional obsession. That will only ignore the real issues people are facing which deserve urgent attention from Humza Yousaf and the SNP.

“They should be fully focused on tackling issues like the cost-of-living crisis, supporting Scotland’s NHS, and creating high-quality jobs.

“In crucial seats across Scotland, voters know that it is only the Scottish Conservatives who can beat the SNP, stop Humza Yousaf obsessing about independence, and ensure the attention will be on the issues that really matter.”

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