THE SNP are taking independence on the road with key figures taking part in a series of meetings across Scotland aimed at persuading former No voters, along with those who are unsure, ahead of a potential referendum next year.

In what effectively puts the party on an election footing, the meetings will also rally existing indy supporters to step up the campaign in their local communities.

The first indy roadshow last night saw Ian Blackford, the SNP’s Westminster leader, joined by MP Mhairi Black in the Highland village of Banavie, near Fort William – which sold out 150 tickets within 24 hours and had a waiting list of more than 100 people. Further roadshows are planned for Portree on June 14, Dingwall on June 20 and Ullapool on July 4. The meetings are open to all and will focus on the huge potential Scotland would have as an independent European nation, as well as the risks posed by Brexit Britain.

Speaking exclusively to The National, Blackford said Scotland had been completely ignored throughout the Brexit process.

“Any pretence that we will ever be treated as an equal partner in the UK has long gone,” he said.

“We now face the choice of two very different futures – the threat of continued Westminster rule in Brexit Britain, or the opportunity to fulfil Scotland’s potential as an independent European nation.

“The people of Scotland deserve the choice of a better future than the one being imposed by Westminster.

“We can complete the journey of devolution and become a fairer, stronger, independent country like our friends and neighbours in Ireland, Scandinavia and across Europe.

“These town hall meetings across the length and breadth of Scotland will offer the chance to reach out to former No voters, those who are unsure, and the many people who are now changing their minds and moving towards support for independence. They will provide the opportunity to discuss Scotland’s future, and how we can use the full powers of independence to strengthen our economy, realise our potential, and build a fairer, more equal country at the heart of Europe.”

Blackford added that now was the right time to be taking independence on the road. “I hope that people in Scotland will reflect on what is the chaos of Westminster.

Parliament in London is not working, and I would contrast that with the Scottish Parliament that is delivering on behalf of the people of Scotland and when you think about we are now 20 years on from devolution it is time to complete that journey.

“Scotland has changed for the better over the last 20 years there’s a heightened level of self-confidence, but the Scottish Government in Edinburgh is having to do its job in the teeth of austerity which has lasted for 10 years and trying to mitigate the worst effects of what’s happening with Tory policy. But the Scottish Government has delivered for the people of Scotland.”

Black added: “After a decade of damaging Westminster austerity cuts and Brexit chaos being imposed on us against our will – it is clearer than ever that the only way to properly protect Scotland’s interests is with independence. Scotland can do so much better than a Brexit Britain where our views are ignored, our interests are side-lined, and our future is dictated by the likes of Boris Johnson, Nigel Farage, and Donald Trump.

“The Scottish Parliament has shown the different choices we can make – but only the full powers of independence will allow us to build the fairer, more equal country we want Scotland to be.

“With a referendum on the horizon, it is time to complete our journey and become an independent European nation.”

Last night’s roadshow itself may have had a serious message but it was a jovial affair, with Blackford’s grasp of economics balanced by Black’s ability to raise a laugh among the audience at the same time as delivering a serious message, including that she had never actually wanted to be a politician.

“This United Kingdom is a maths game,” she said, pointing out that the number of London MPs could outvote an entire nation – 73 in the case of London, with 59 in Scotland.