THE Scottish Government has a cast-iron mandate to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. The SNP won the Scottish Parliament election in 2016 with a clear manifesto commitment that if Scotland was dragged out of the EU against the expressed wishes of the people of Scotland then the Scottish Government would have a mandate to give the people of Scotland a choice on their own future.

The SNP won a majority in 2017, with more seats won than every other party combined.

The SNP won 50% of the seats at the EU election in 2019.

The SNP won a whopping 48 seats at last years UK election. That’s 81% of the seats compared to the 56% that Boris Johnson said gave him a mandate to take Scotland and the UK out of the EU.

Theresa May told us “now is not the time” and Boris Johnson has flat-out opposed the request of Nicola Sturgeon for a Section 30 order to hold a referendum on Scottish independence.

Westminster doesn’t want us to have a choice on our future. They are under no doubt that this time there’s a pretty good chance a majority of Scots will vote to take Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands. The latest opinion poll shows that 54% are now in favour of independence.

If the SNP goes to the polls in 2021 seeking another mandate for a referendum, that would be our fifth mandate.

Westminster is never going to agree to a Section 30 order; not when they think they may lose. We know this. Do we really think a Prime Minister that was willing to throw the entire Tory party under a bus, and ignore the views of the majority of England, in keeping Dominic Cummings in a job cares one bit if the Scottish Government tell him it’s just not cricket to keep saying no to our requests?

If Westminster won’t respect a quadruple-lock mandate, what difference will another mandate make, especially when all they have to do is keep on saying “no”? There is no political price for Boris Johnson to pay if he keeps on refusing, and that will keep Scotland stuck in a hellish limbo.

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It’s precisely for that reason Angus MacNeil MP and I have proposed an independence Plan B – a democratic way of countering the undemocratic intransigence of the UK Government and its feckless Franco of a Prime Minister.

Our plan sets out a means of ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard, and it progresses our mandate for a referendum as it should have been deployed, with democratic determination. We know that 86% of the independence movement support a Plan B. But this isn’t navel-gazing. Of some of the key groups we need to bring with us on the path to independence, almost half of Labour Party voters, and a majority of those that voted to remain in the European Union agree that there needs to be a Plan B if the UK Government continues to block a Section 30 order.

A referendum on Scottish independence is my first preference but no son, or daughter, of Scotland can just sit back and accept that a UK Government we don’t vote for has the right to tell the sovereign people of Scotland that we cannot determine our own future.

The consented referendum policy of the SNP is not integral to our national cause. If we keep telling the UK Government that Scotland can only become independent through a “gold plated” standard, then the bar for that standard will continually be set higher each time.

If Westminster doesn’t respect the democratic demands of the people of Scotland and agree to a referendum, then we should make the Scottish Parliament election the moment that we seek a mandate to negotiate our independence. Then we will realise the very thing the SNP came into being to deliver.

It’s time to bring the independence movement together behind the plan that will deliver independence and then unite all of Scotland on the path to delivering progress for our nation.