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by Louise Wilson
14 September 2023
SNP to ‘begin immediate negotiations’ on independence if it wins most Westminster seats

SNP to ‘begin immediate negotiations’ on independence if it wins most Westminster seats

The SNP will likely pledge to “begin immediate negotiations” for Scottish independence if it secures the most Scottish seats at the next general election. 

A motion submitted to the party’s conference – which takes place next month – says the SNP will put “vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country” in the first line of its manifesto. 

Backed by First Minister Humza Yousaf and SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn, the motion says the party would publish a withdrawal agreement setting out the terms of discussion with the UK government. 

It would also move to consult on a draft interim constitution and establish an envoy position for negotiating membership of the EU. 

Members will vote on the motion when the party meets in Aberdeen on 15-17 October. 

It follows a series of member engagement events within the party, including an ‘Independence Convention’ which took place in Dundee in June. 

That convention was originally scheduled to take place in March but was delayed following the resignation of Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and SNP leader. 

The party has been exploring options for moving the independence agenda forward after the Supreme Court ruled the Scottish Parliament could unilaterally legislate for a referendum last autumn. 

Sturgeon backed using the next general election as a “de facto referendum” before leaving office, but there had been confusion over what the threshold would be for victory. 

It was previously suggested that the party would seek to secure more than 50 per cent of all votes cast in Scotland and all votes cast for pro-independence parties would count. 

The motion to appear before members says: “Conference believes that if the SNP subsequently wins the most seats at the general election in Scotland, the Scottish Government is empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country.” 

If approved, the party’s manifesto will “highlight the direct link between Westminster rule and the many challenges we are facing as a country”. 

Pro-union parties have previously rejected the suggestion a general election could reasonably be used in lieu of an issue-specific referendum. 

Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said last year: “I don't believe that people vote on one specific issue in a manifesto and I also, if you are talking about the de facto referendum that the First Minister [Sturgeon] is proposing at a general election, I don't see there being a mandate for something. You can't have a mandate for something that we now know you legally do not have any power over.” 

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