SNP conference delegates have for the first time backed plans for a new currency to be adopted gradually after independence.

The ground-breaking vote in favour of the policy followed an intense

two-hour debate and a plea by the leadership to the grassroots on the opening day of the party’s Spring Conference in Edinburgh.

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Finance Secretary Derek Mackay and depute party leader Keith Brown saw off challenges made by some calling for the adoption of a new currency straight after independence.

Former MP George Kerevan was among those who also argued in favour of scrapping a condition – set down by the leadership – that six economic tests should be met before the new currency could be introduced.

READ MORE: Without its own currency, Scotland would not really be an independent country

“If we don’t control our own currency we don’t control our economy,” Kerevan told the packed hall.

But summing up, Brown argued the motion set out a process to adopt to a Scottish currency in a way which would help bring over undecided voters and win independence.

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“Quite a few people have argued that we need more time, that we commission more reports. But conference, we are in the teeth of an independence referendum campaign right now,” he said.

“This is not an academic process. What is important is bringing over the people we need to deliver independence.”

Those backing the leadership’s plan rejected claims it would lead to austerity. They emphasised that the wider economic proposals presented to conference would increase prosperity in part by encouraging people to move to Scotland and contribute to the country’s finances.

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Mackay told delegates the party was at “the defining moment in the journey towards independence” and that an increasing number of people believed Scotland would be richer with independence.

“We must build on that momentum with a plan that will grow our economy, end austerity and ensure our country’s enormous wealth works for all of us,” he said.

“Our proposition is simple. On day one, the country will use the pound because it’s our pound too. We know that keeping the pound in the early years of independence is the preferred choice of the Scottish people.”

Their resolution to conference stated that Scotland would continue to use the pound in a transition period after independence while aiming for the Scottish Parliament to vote on establishing a new currency by the end of the first term of an independent parliament.

It also called for an independent central bank to report annually to parliament on progress towards meeting the six economic tests.

However, following the debate, an amendment relating to the process of bringing in the new currency was passed by 781 votes to 729.

READ MORE: Business for Scotland backs SNP’s revised stance on launching currency

It amended the proposal to commit an SNP government to replace the pound “as soon as practicable” after independence.

However, party members did not vote to scrap six economic tests that would “guide” the exact timescale for a new currency.

Following the vote, the First Minister, who did not speak during the debate but sat on the conference stage throughout the session, welcomed the result, and did not appear concerned with the passing of the amendment.

She tweeted: “Great debate at #SNP19 on economy and currency. Amendment urges progress as quickly as practicable, and six tests to ensure solid foundation for decision are endorsed. We can move forward now with confidence to make the case for Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”

After the debate a point of order was made by SNP Glasgow Councillor Rhiannon Spear who raised concerns about the gender imbalance in the discussion.

She also tweeted: “Did one of these proposers or seconders think about gender balance at all? Six men in a row speaking on the economy is not a good look at all...”

The new economic policy follows recommendations by a commission led by Andrew Wilson, the former SNP MSP and an RBS economist, which published its report last year and considered the model of 12 small countries whose economies were flourishing under independence.

The importance of putting forward a strong proposition on currency is seen as crucial for the independence movement as the policy in the 2014 referendum – to use the pound in a currency union with the UK – was weakened when George Osborne rejected the offer.

A YouGov poll released yesterday found that continuing to use the pound in the long term was the preferred currency option for an independent Scotland of 48% of people.

A total of 17% said Scotland should look to the Euro, 15% didn’t know and 5% wanted a new currency right away.

The SNP proposal of using the pound in the short term before launching a new Scottish currency was chosen by 14%.