THE SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford has insisted a second Scottish independence referendum "has to happen" next year.

Ahead of the SNP conference this weekend, Blackford told reporters his party is ready for indyref2 despite some doubts among senior members.

Yesterday it emerged that some SNP figures are planning to disrupt the opening of the party conference in order to force a debate on a plan B to achieving independence. 

MP Angus MacNeil and senior councillor Chris McEleny have been trying to get a possible alternative route to independence discussed if Boris Johnson or any future prime minister will not give the Scottish Government the necessary Section 30 powers to hold a referendum.

The proposal is a departure from official SNP policy, which backs a referendum on terms agreed with the UK Government. The men's attempts to have it discussed at the party conference have been thwarted.

READ MORE: Rebels plot bid to have independence Plan B on SNP agenda

In the latest move McEleny will use a procedure conference opening in Aberdeen on Sunday to try again.

Today SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon repeated her opposition to the proposal, warning that there is “no easy or shortcut route to independence”.

And, echoing the First Minister, Blackford urged SNP members to "get behind the programme" the party already had and help the push for a referendum. 

The MP said: “It has to happen within 2020. What we don’t want to do at the moment is put a specific date on that."

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He went on: “My simple message would be that we have the mechanism which is there for us to get a referendum. So what I would say to everyone is let’s get behind the programme that we have got and let’s make sure that we have that referendum.”

Acknowledging that an early General Election could soon lead to a change in prime ministers, Blackford added: “I would say to every possible candidate for PM they have to respect the mandate that we already have, and the Scottish people will be sending SNP MPs back to Westminster to make sure that mandate is delivered upon.

“That for us under any circumstances is non-negotiable.”

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon dismisses SNP rebels' Plan B route to independence

McEleny defended his plan to put down an amendment backing the conference agenda, but only the condition that it includes the plan B debate, arguing the discussion is "fitting" for the circumstances. 

“I know some people can get tied up in procedural issues and the ins and outs of how the conference agenda got put together, but it’s clear that SNP members will be travelling from across Scotland and we will be the party offering real political leadership in the face of UK Brexit chaos,” he said.

“The constitution of the party allows business to be added so I will propose that members present are allowed a debate on independence Plan B. It’s a plan that will ensure that if the UK Government attempts to silence Scotland then we will make sure our democratic voice is heard. I think it’s fitting then to put to SNP members if this is a debate they want at their conference.”