The SNP should give Boris Johnson an Easter deadline to accept demands for a second Scottish independence referendum, or start preparing its own plans for a ballot, a former depute leadership candidate has said.
Christopher McEleny, the leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council, said that if referendum powers are not transferred in the coming weeks, then it was “no longer sustainable to kick any discussion on a Plan B into the long grass”.
In December, the Tory leader rejected Nicola Sturgeon’s plea for Holyrood to be permitted to hold a second vote, but the First Minister insists such a ballot can still take place in 2020.
Mr McEleny, who drew up an independence “Plan B” with SNP MP Angus MacNeil, believes that if a section 30 order has not been granted by Easter, a series of events should take place to discuss “alternative strategies”.
A fresh proposal could then be put to the SNP conference in October, he added.
He also wants the SNP to include a commitment in next year’s Holyrood election manifesto that would allow for a consultative referendum to be held if a majority of MSPs elected next May back independence.
The SNP councillor is the latest figure in the party to push for increased action to try to secure a second referendum, with MP Joanna Cherry having recently called on the Scottish Government to start making preparations for a consultative referendum.
Mr McEleny said: “If the UK Government continues to refuse us our right to exercise democracy via an agreed referendum then we should rely on our own sovereign and democratic parliament to deliver that.
“If the section 30 demand has not been acceded to by Easter then it is no longer sustainable to kick any discussion on a Plan B into the long grass. ”
He added: “It is clear that support is growing for countering the anti-democratic position of Boris Johnson and it’s getting close to the end of the road for repeatedly saying we might have a referendum simply if we just keep asking nicely.
“Next year’s Holyrood election should feature an SNP manifesto commitment that should Boris continue to refuse a section 30 order then, by a majority of pro-independence Scottish seats the people of Scotland mandate the Scottish Government to hold a consultative referendum on Scottish independence, with a resulting Yes vote being a mandate for our government to then open independence negotiations with Westminster.
“Faced with that clearly stated proposition Boris Johnson may run off scared to the courts, he could well even reconsider his rhetoric on a Scottish referendum. If he does not, then so be it.”
The “Plan B” approach, drawn up by Mr McEleny and Mr MacNeil, argued that a pro-independence majority in Scotland in either a Holyrood or Westminster election would be a mandate to open negotiations with the UK.
But the pair failed in their bid to have the idea discussed at the gathering in Aberdeen in October.
An SNP spokeswoman said: “The SNP Government has a cast-iron democratic mandate to hold an independence referendum – that is not a matter of opinion, it is a matter of fact.
“Boris Johnson’s anti-democratic actions are only helping to make the case for independence – and the more that the Tories try to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future, the more support for a referendum, and for independence, will continue to rise.”