JOANNA Cherry has called for the SNP’s ruling body to back a policy making debate at the party’s annual conference this Autumn on how Scottish independence can be secured.

The QC, who is MP for Edinburgh South West and the party’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster, wants to ensure the crucial discussion and vote takes place at the October event.

She made the intervention after a poll published yesterday put support for Yes at 54% and No at 46% – almost reversing the result of the plebiscite in September 2014.

“It’s very encouraging to see increased support for independence and the SNP riding high,” she said.

“This poll makes it all the more important that delegates are able to debate and vote on the best way to secure a second independence referendum and Scotland’s economic and social renewal at this year’s SNP conference.

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“I’m looking forward to hearing the NEC’s [National Executive Committee’s] plans for facilitating meaningful debate notwithstanding the constraints imposed by the public health crisis.”

Responding to the findings of the Panelbase survey commissioned by the Sunday Times, Cherry wrote yesterday on Twitter: “A very encouraging poll in today’s @thetimesscot with support for #Indy at 54% & @theSNP at 55%.

“The UK Govt’s strategy of treating Scotland’s democratic representatives with derision is persuading more people living in Scotland to support #Independence.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon wants to follow the same path to hold an independence referendum as the one which happened ahead of the 2014 vote.

The process involved an agreement between the then Prime Minister David Cameron and the then First Minister Alex Salmond for referendum powers to be transferred on a temporary basis from Westminster to Holyrood under a Section 30 order.

However, a request for this legal order by the First Minister to Prime Minister Boris Johnson made after the SNP’s General Election win in Scotland last year was rejected with Johnson insisting the 2014 vote had settled the issue.

His block has provoked some SNP politicians to consider what alternative route to independence could be pursued should Johnson keep rejecting any further Section 30 order requests.

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Angus MacNeil and Chris McEleny have advocated a ‘Plan B’ which would ditch a referendum and use the Holyrood election next year as a proxy vote on independence. In The National last week, Cherry said there should be a Plan B – but not the one they back. Instead she argued Holyrood could press ahead with holding a referendum without the Section 30 order.

She pointed to Sturgeon’s Brexit day speech where she suggested a referendum may be within the remit of Holyrood. Cherry underlined such assessment had previously been made by constitutional experts.

“I have never advocated a wildcat or illegal referendum,” wrote Cherry. “My interest is in the question of how Scotland might hold a legally sanctioned referendum on the question of independence without having to be dependent on the Westminster Government’s permission.”

The SNP’s annual conference is due to be held remotely because of the coronavirus pandemic with delegates voting online.