SNP veteran Kenny MacAskill plans a return to frontline politics as a parliamentary candidate at the next General Election in a bid to give “Scotland a final push to independence”.

The former Justice Secretary has put himself forward for selection to fight the East Lothian seat, which his party lost to Labour in 2017.

In a statement to a SNP’s hustings last night, MacAskill said: “I’m seeking your support to be candidate in an election which I believe is the final heave to achieving independence. The British state’s breaking apart and those elected to Westminster have a critical role in that final push.

“I’ve the skills, experience and energy to add to the team already there. Whilst also delivering for constituents in East Lothian, where people are shamefully being forced into penury or driven out of their adopted land.”

MacAskill was first elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999 as a list MSP representing the Lothians, before winning the constituency seat of Edinburgh East and Musselburgh in 2007 and then Edinburgh Eastern in 2011.

He stepped down from his role as Justice Secretary in 2014, and as a MSP in 2016 and has since been building a career as a political pundit, commentator and writer.

His statement added: “I stepped down from being Justice Secretary and an MSP after the 2014 referendum where I had given it my all. After decades of campaigning and many years in elected office and government it was time for a new team there and for me to try new fields. I’ve used my time out of the front line to write Jimmy Reid’s biography, as well as other books on Scotland’s radical history. An area where shamefully we’ve been denied knowledge of our people’s story. But I believe this is a pivotal moment when every effort must be strained once again and the next book can wait.”

He continued: “The opportunity’s there for us to achieve the dream that’s never died. I know the area well and was privileged to represent Musselburgh for many years. I’ve experience not just in Parliament but in Government. More importantly I’m used to working under pressure and in the face of severe hostility.

“This chapter of Scotland’s story won’t be easy. Independence has to be won and the challenges remain great. But I’ve the strength and resilience to endure it, as well as the energy to deliver it. All whilst serving the people that it would be a privilege to represent. This time we will win.”

Joanna Cherry, the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster, has backed MacAskill’s bid for the nomination.

She said: “Kenny’s experience in campaigning and in government would be an invaluable asset to our Westminster group.”

Ballot papers are expected to be sent to SNP members in the East Lothian constituency on Monday and the result of the vote is due later next week.

MacAskill first came to prominence inside the SNP through his activities in the left wing 79 Group. He was appointed Justice Secretary by former First Minister Alex Salmond with whom he remains a close ally. Since stepping down as a MSP in his role as a commentator he had been critical at times of the SNP’s current leadership. Earlier this year he suggested Scotland should hold an unauthorised independence referendum in the vein of Catalonia’s if UK ministers deny the nation a legal vote. He also criticised Nicola Sturgeon’s “inept” handling of her last call for a ballot in 2017 and said that new ideas were needed to force the Conservatives into agreeing a rerun of the 2014 vote.

In June the Scottish Government introduced legislation paving the way for another vote.

“If a referendum is refused then action needs taken,” MacAskill wrote in The Scotsman in July. “Another electoral mandate would ramp up the pressure, providing legitimacy for a consultative vote and further exposing Westminster. ‘Back in your box, Jock’ simply isn’t acceptable.

“In politics as in physics, for every action there’s an equal and opposite reaction. If the UK won’t negotiate, Scotland has the right to act.”