NEXT weekend will be the most crucial SNP conference in many years.

On the Saturday all eyes will be on the Sustainable Growth Commission debate. Debate is healthy, and anything that highlights that with independence we would be limited only by our imagination when it comes to the possibilities – whether on social policy, Trident, or the economy – that would be unlocked when the people of Scotland get to make the decisions about the future of Scotland, is a good thing.

The following day we will pack into the Edinburgh conference hall, and people across Scotland will tune in to watch our First Minister Nicola Sturgeon set out what Scotland’s future has the potential to be.

For the First Minister of Scotland knowing just when (note that is when not if) to push the button on a renewed independence push is fundamental to our nation’s future.

First Minister, now is the time, Scotland is ready.

For the past three years the UK government has ignored at every opportunity the sensible approach on Scotland’s place in Europe taken by the Scottish Government.

The democratic voice of our parliament has been completely ignored. The First Minister has been right to say that during the uncertain political landscape that Brexit has created, we need clarity. We have that clarity now.

The UK parties are uniting to end freedom of movement and we will soon have a right-wing Brexiteer as Prime Minister, willing to drag Scotland out the EU without a deal.

It is clear that Scotland is handcuffed to the most incompetent UK Government there has ever been, and we have the clarity we need to know that Scotland’s best interests are not, and never will be, served by people who refuse to even listen to the democratic voice of Scotland.

Whether it is Brexit, austerity, illegal wars, or the renewal of weapons of mass destruction at a cost over £200bn – all this while one in four Scottish children live in poverty – many people who previously voted no to Scottish independence are starting to ask themselves just how many policies they don’t support, that Scotland does not support, are they willing to accept as the price for staying part of the United Kingdom?

It is now time to take the case for why Scotland should be an independent country to the nation. The Brexit extension gives us that opportunity, and we must seize it. Simply calling for a Section 30 order, in the knowledge that it will either again be ignored or rejected, isn’t good enough. What will we do if it is rejected?

The Edinburgh Agreement set out world leading best practice and a referendum is the desired mechanism to allow the people of Scotland to vote for an independent Scotland. But what do you do if the very institution you wish to gain independence from refuses to give you the power to do so?

Do you accept it? Of course not. We must be clear to the UK Government and whoever the Prime Minister may be: if you deny the people of Scotland the right to exercise our mandate to hold a referendum then you are on notice. A referendum is our preference, but if it is your choice to deny us that then be clear ... we will fight the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections not for a mandate to hold a referendum but to secure a mandate from the people of Scotland to begin independence negotiations.

I wholeheartedly agree that we should be doing all we can to ensure Scotland’s choice to stay in Europe is protected. It is clear now that independence is the only way to do that.