NICOLA Sturgeon has indicated she will keep to her timetable to demand powers by the end of the year for Holyrood to hold a second independence referendum in the second half of 2020.

The First Minister’s spokesman restated her intention this week to seek a Section 30 order by the end of 2019 despite doubts her plan could be steered off course by the snap election on December 12.

He told The National: “As the First Minister has made clear, we will be demanding the transfer of power for a referendum before the end of this calendar year. Independence will be at the very heart of this election campaign, and another win for the SNP will be an unequivocal and irresistible demand for Scotland’s right to choose its own future.”

However, it is not yet clear when precisely the FM will write to the Prime Minister to make the formal request. There are three possible timeframes. How the SNP frame the campaign is likely to determine when the letter is sent. As one strategist told me: “The SNP need to work out how they are going to fight this election. Is it about stopping Brexit or is it about laying the groundwork for independence?”

Before November 6:

Jacob Rees-Mogg, the Leader of the House of Commons, said on Monday parliament would be dissolved at 00.01 on November 6. Putting the Section 30 order request in before next Wednesday would send out a powerful message to the 45% to 50% of Scots who back independence that the FM is absolutely putting the battle for independence at the centre of the party’s election campaign.

The insider explained: “If the party decides the campaign is about independence then in my view the First Minister should make her request as soon as possible. The message here would be ‘Vote SNP to get Boris Johnson out and to get indyref next year’.”

The source added: “The upside to this is that she will get the support of the 45% of Scots who support independence behind the SNP, the downside is that she could then face questions about issues relating to independence such as currency, the border, and so on. If you want the campaign to be about independence, then you put it front and centre and stick to it. What I would caution against is having too convoluted campaign – along the lines of ‘stop Brexit and get a Section 30 order for indyref2 next year’; that could be a rather confusing message to the electorate.”

Between November 6 and December 12:

During the heat of an election campaign after parliament is dissolved and before polling day is another possible timeframe for the FM to seek the Section 30 order. This period will coincide with the expected passage of the Referendums Bill in Holyrood which sets out the framework for a plebiscite next year. The downside is that it could look a tad indecisive compared to getting a bold request in at the very start of the campaign.

After December 12:

After the election Boris Johnson could be returned as Prime Minister as head of a majority Tory Government or propped up as minority Government again by Arlene Foster’s DUP or even Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party. Alternatively Labour could win and form either a majority or a minority government.

If Johnson wins – and forms either a majority or minority administration – a Section 30 order request would be rejected outright, with the possibility of indyref2 off the table and the SNP left to build support for independence at a later date post 2021.

If Corbyn wins, a Section 30 order could be granted – early on if the SNP prop up a minority Labour government perhaps through a confidence and supply arrangement or later, possibly after a pro-independence SNP/Greens win at the 2021 Holyrood election. The downside of this timeframe to the SNP is that that Section 30 order request plays no role in the campaign and could lead to a lower turnout among Yes supporters.