A MOTION on a "Plan B" route to independence will be not be on the agenda at the SNP's conference next month after it was rejected by a key party committee.

The move will mean there will be no vote on what an alternative strategy should be if Boris Johnson continues to reject a request for powers to be transferred to Holyrood to hold a referendum agreed by the UK and Scottish governments.

Instead, delegates at the online event will be invited to take part in a discussion session on the subject of independence and the party will hold a National Assembly on the subject next year. 

The two chief Plan B proponents Angus MacNeil MP and Councillor Chris McEleny said they are disappointed by the conference committee's decision.

READ MORE: Scottish independence support has 12-point lead in latest Politico poll

They had been hopeful their motion would be selected after figures close to the leadership backed having a full debate on the topic at conference, despite them not agreeing that the party should stray from its current policy of getting a new Section 30 order required for the transfer of referendum powers.

MacNeil and McEleny had previously believed they had been given a positive signal when drafting their resolution which backed requesting a Section 30 order as the preferred route, but then went on to argue that if this was rejected then Scottish ministers should seek a legal challenge to establish if Holyrood could stage a referendum without the UK Government's agreement.

Should this second step prove unsuccessful, their proposed motion argued that the May 2021 elections should be a de facto referendum on independence.

MacNeil and McEleny claimed the decision to block their resolution would not be popular among grassroots activists who have seen support for independence grow to a record level of 58% but feel their goal has been frustrated and a No-Deal Brexit looms in just two months.

READ MORE: Scottish independence: Four things we learned from the 56% poll

"Scotland should now be in a situation to free itself from this kamikaze cliff jump by the Tories, or more correctly the Scottish Government should be," said MacNeil.

"However, the cold hard fact, which some of us may not want to admit to, is that we have no escape. The Scottish Government is unarmed to fight or even ameliorate the choices that Tories have foisted on us.

“We have ended up here at the mercy of the Tories by our own hand. Unless we change our Plan-A-only policy, it doesn’t matter how much those who have the microphone boldly proclaim that Plan A has ‘momentum’ or that Boris Johnson’s position is "unsustainable".

The National:

"It has been almost four-and-a-half years since the Brexit vote and face facts, the cupboard is bare."

McEleny stated: "Scotland stands at the cliff edge of a No Deal Brexit, the economic decisions that will define Scotland for a generation are about to be made by a Westminster Government we didn't vote for. Now is not the time for a talking shop, now is the time for action. 

“Public opinion is now consistently measuring that a majority of Scots want independence. In advance of last year’s general election it was said that we didn’t need a Plan B because Boris Johnson’s opposition to a referendum would be blown away by an SNP victory. We won a landslide at the general election and he still said no. 

"If the SNP win a majority next year, and polls are showing even greater support for independence, are Westminster suddenly going to agree to a referendum when it’s even more likely that they will lose it? The more it looks like Scots will vote for independence the more the forces at Whitehall will act to block our right to self determination. 

"Plan B puts political pressure on the UK Government to agree to a referendum and it makes it clear that the SNP will ensure the democratic voice of Scotland is heard.

The National:

"Boris Johnson doesn’t want us to determine our own future and I’m bitterly disappointed that SNP members won't be allowed to debate a plan designed to allow us take Scotland’s future into our own hands at next years Holyrood elections - whether the UK Government like it or not." 

Last weekend Kevin Pringle, the SNP's former head of communications, backed a proper discussion on Plan B at the conference.

"While I'm not persuaded of the case for a non-referendum "plan B" route to negotiating Scottish statehood, I suspect that the process of discussing the issue properly at next month's online SNP conference would help ease at least some of the current tensions," he wrote in a newspaper column.

In June Andrew Wilson, the author of the SNP's blueprint on the economic case for independence, backed the conference having a full Plan B debate when he responded to a post by MacNeil on social media.

"I welcome wise idea of SNP virtual conference to let us thrash out pros and cons of independence approaches and fall back plans. #ScotRef," wrote MacNeil on Twitter.

Wilson responded: "Agree with this. Time to unite the party behind the best route to unite the country behind progress. At a pace that respects reality and will win and win big."

Internal party critics of Plan B though argue that the SNP's current strategy of holding out for a Section 30 order is working with support for independence climbing to record levels.

They point to the UK Government being "in panic mode" over Scotland with ideas for pro-Union strategies, such as seeking help from the EU to say it would block Scotland's future membership, looking desperate.

They also contend that if Johnson is not going to grant a Section 30 order he is unlikely to enter negotiations on Scotland becoming independent.

Critics further note comments made to The National in August by top pollster Sir John Curtice who cautioned the SNP against putting a Plan B route to independence in its Holyrood manifesto.

READ MORE: John Curtice: SNP could use 2024 General Election as defacto indyref2

Curtice warned such a move could weaken the SNP's negotiating position with Johnson to get a section 30 order.

He said the party would need to present a clear position to voters before the Holyrood election about what it sought from the Prime Minister. An inclusion of an alternative process to independence could risk such clarity, he said at the time.

“You have to make the proposition, put it to the public in an unambiguous way. We want a repeat of the process of 2014. Fullstop. It’s not to say the SNP shouldn’t have a Plan B, but it’s for their consumption, not for public consumption.”

The SNP's online conference will take place from November 28 to 30.

An SNP spokesman said: "Effective leadership during the global pandemic is proving a real boost to support for an independent Scotland. Next month's SNP conference will focus on what’s important to the people of Scotland, and independence will very much be at the heart of debate."