A FRESH bid to get a Plan B route to independence debated at the SNP’s conference this autumn has been rejected.

MP Angus MacNeil and senior councillor Chris McEleny wanted party members to back an alternative process for achieving independence if Boris Johnson refuses to give Holyrood the necessary powers to hold a referendum.

They proposed that the next Holyrood or Westminster election – which ever came first – should be fought on a manifesto that would see victory mandate the Scottish Government to open negotiations on independence without the need for a referendum.

They initially submitted their proposal to party bosses for consideration for a debate at the Aberdeen event.

But the SNP’s conference committee turned it down saying such a policy change was too significant a development for a single conference debate and would require broader consultation with the membership.

In a second attempt to get the plan aired MacNeil and McEleny resubmitted the resolution as an amendment to a motion by Deputy First Minister John Swinney and Early Years Minister Maree Todd marking the achievements of the Scottish Parliament. But it is now understood members of the SNP’s conference committee knocked it back when they met earlier this week.

“You can’t take a resolution on something and use an amendment to it to change what the resolution is about,” one SNP insider told The National.

“Folk also weren’t happy about how Angus and Chris had gone about things, using a Twitter poll to try and strong arm the committee into making a decision they didn’t want.”

The insider added: “It was a completely incompetent amendment. It’s not to say the issue can’t be discussed in the party but it would need proper and full debate in the proper way by the full membership.”

Both MacNeil and McEleny are yet to be officially informed of the decision on the amendment which had been backed by three other MPs and 15 party branches.

MacNeil said: “The clock is ticking, but we still don’t have a plan to save Scotland from a no deal Brexit in just two months time. The election strategy plan aimed to give us an extra club in the locker. We support plan A, but with the UK Government continuing to deny Scotland a choice on her future, its only sensible to have a back up plan to ensure Scotland’s democratic voice is heard. “

McEleny, who is opposition SNP leader on Inverclyde Council, added: “Branches across Scotland have been debating the merits of ‘indy plan B.’ An overwhelming majority who have had the chance to debate the policy have endorsed the proposal – in most cases unanimously, and even then the feedback has been that every single branch has had a vibrant debate. If we don’t stand for vibrant policy debates, what type of policy debates do we stand for ?”

McEleny rejected the suggestion that they had tried to strong arm the committee into selecting their resolution and amendment, saying the Twitter poll was designed to gauge levels of support for it.

First Minister and SNP party leader Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said she wants to follow the same legal process for the next referendum to the one held in 2014 .

Asked about alternative routes to independence at a Edinburgh Fringe event earlier this month she underlined her support for the existing plan to request referendum powers from the UK Government.

“Why should I be talking about the alternatives to doing it the right way? It’s the people who are trying to block it from doing it the right way who should be under pressure.

“What on earth is democratic about any Westminster Government saying that even though there is a democratic mandate, even though the Scottish Parliament has voted for this, that they have the right to block it?

“And particularly just now when that undemocratic, unsustainable position has started to crumble. We’ve seen it from John McDonnell and Jeremy Corbyn, even within the Tories, we are starting to see them ‘ah well, maybe if they’ve got a majority in 20..’. So let’s just keep the pressure there. So we can have the referendum in the right way. In the gold standard way and then Scotland can become an independent country.”

An SNP spokesman said: “The committee has yet to publish the conference agenda.”

The party has previously dismissed MacNeil’s and McEleny’s plan.

Responding to an article about their proposal last month, a 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.”