AN alternative route to independence if Theresa May’s successor continues to block a new referendum could be presented to SNP members at their annual conference this autumn.

SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil and senior SNP Councillor Chris McEleny want the party to back their proposal which they believe would overcome the obstacle presented by the UK Government refusing to grant the necessary powers to Holyrood to hold a new vote.

In a resolution sent to a conference committee last week they call for a plebiscite on independence by autumn next year.

They go on to argue that should the UK Government fail to grant a Section 30 order for such a vote to happen, then a new pro-independence electoral victory would mandate the Scottish Government to negotiate with the UK Government to enable Scotland to become independent. The plan would apply to the first major election, whether for Westminster or Holyrood.

In April the First Minister unveiled her proposal for a new vote on independence in the current session of the Scottish Parliament which ends in May 2021, and later suggested the referendum would be held in the second half of next year. Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the vote would be held following agreement with the UK Government in line with the process behind the 2014 referendum.

However, May and the two Tory leadership candidates are opposed to giving people in Scotland a new chance to vote on independence.

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Hunt told a leadership hustings in Perth on Friday: “I’m a Unionist to my core. I say this: as Prime Minister of the United Kingdom I will never allow our Union to be broken up, and if the First Minister of Scotland asks me for a second independence referendum I will muster up my British politeness and I will say No.” Johnson told the event he could “see no case” for a second referendum.

MacNeil and McEleny hope the plan will be approved by SNP delegates at the conference in Aberdeen, which takes place from October 13-15 – two weeks ahead of the latest date for the UK to leave the EU.

Their resolution states: “Conference notes that the United Kingdom will leave the European Union on October 31, 2019. Conference condemns the actions of the UK Government who have consistently ignored the sensible approach taken by the Scottish Government to reflect that the people of Scotland voted to remain in the EU.

“Conference believes that the people of Scotland’s future will be best served by an independent Scotland in Europe. Conference reaffirms that decisions about the future of Scotland should be made in Scotland by the people of Scotland.

“Conference calls on the Scottish Government to hold a referendum on Scottish independence before autumn of 2020.”

It adds: “Conference instructs, that in the event of the UK Government failing to agree to grant a Section 30 order to hold a referendum by the established principles of the Edinburgh Agreement, that the manifesto for the next Scottish or UK Parliamentary election – whichever may come first – shall state that, a pro-independence electoral victory shall be a mandate from the people of Scotland for the Scottish Government to commence independence negotiations with the UK Government.”

The resolution has been submitted to the SNP’s Standing Orders and Agenda Committee (SOAC), which helps set the conference’s agenda.

MacNeil pointed out other countries have become independent through negotiation rather than through referendums and said it would be undemocratic for the UK Government not to take part. He also called for campaigning to get underway to persuade more voters to back independence.

A SNP spokesman said: “There is a cast-iron mandate to give the people of Scotland the option of becoming independent in a referendum before the 2021 election, and the First Minister has made clear she believes this should take place toward the latter half of next year.

“Given the way Scotland’s interests have been completely ignored in the Brexit process, and given the increasing likelihood that we will be dragged off the no-deal economic cliff-edge, it’s no wonder support for the SNP and for independence is rising.”