WIINNING a majority of Scottish constituencies at an election could be sufficient to open negotiations on independence, a former SNP deputy leader has claimed.

Jim Sillars, who was Alex Salmond’s deputy, said the move may be feasible if the UK Government continues to refuse Scotland permission to hold another legally binding referendum.

A Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times last week found that support for independence would grow to within touching distance of a majority in the event of a no-deal Brexit. However, the Prime Minister has refused to give Nicola Sturgeon the right to hold a second referendum.

A number of senior SNP figures have suggested that independence could come about without a referendum and Sturgeon has warned that May cannot deny Scotland a second vote.

Sillars told The Sunday Times yesterday that if the UK continues to block an independence referendum despite public support, there are “merits” in the idea that the SNP winning a majority of Scottish seats and votes at Westminster would act as the basis to begin negotiations.

His comments follow remarks by the SNP’s justice spokeswoman at Westminster Joanna Cherry who told a fringe meeting at her party conference last week a significant “democratic event” such as a General Election would be enough to declare independence.

The Edinburgh West MP said if Labour won the election, but without an outright majority, the SNP could demand the abolition of Trident or a Section 30 order as the “price of our support”.

She added: “Our aim is to make Scotland an independent country, but I would remind you that Scotland voted against that in 2014.

“There has to be a democratic event, and I choose those words wisely, it doesn’t have to necessarily be a referendum, it could be something else, like a General Election.

“But there has to be a democratic event. In the meantime we will do what we have always done as SNP politicians and push for more powers for Holyrood.”