SNP chiefs are being urged to use a virtual conference to decide if the party should adopt a “Plan B” approach on independence.

Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil and Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny want the manifesto for next year’s Holyrood elections to include a pledge that winning a pro-independence majority would be grounds to start negotiations with Westminster for Scotland to leave the UK.

The pair had hoped their alternative approach would be discussed at the SNP conference in June – but the event was cancelled as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

They say the issue should be debated at a virtual conference, with SNP members given an online vote on whether the party should adopt this stance in next May’s Scottish Parliament election.

McEleny, leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde Council, said: “If we are now able to go for a picnic, play golf or go to bowling greens, then we should be able to talk about Scotland’s future.”

Both McEleny and MacNeil have been arguing an alternative approach is needed after first Theresa May and then Boris Johnson turned down Section 30 requests from First Minister Nicola Sturgeon for power to be transferred to Scotland for a second vote on independence to be held.

The most recent request was made after December’s General Election saw the SNP increase its tally of MPs at Westminster, following a campaign focusing heavily on the issue of independence, but Johnson refused in January.

In March, the Scottish Government halted all preparatory work for a future referendum as the coronavirus crisis hit.

MacNeil said: “We can’t afford to waste another mandate for independence by allowing a ‘Boris veto’ because we don’t have a Plan B for when he says ‘No’ again to a Section 30 request.”