IF Scotland votes for pro-independence parties at the next election, there will be a referendum – even if Boris Johnson says no.

In a new plan for indyref2 – revealed exclusively by The National today – the SNP are set to tell the Prime Minister that he’ll need to take legal action if he wants to stop Scots voters having their say on the constitution.

The proposal comes ahead of the SNP’s virtual National Assembly on Sunday, where members will meet to discuss “the tactics and strategy on the route from here to independence day”.

READ MORE: This is the SNP’s routemap to a Scottish independence referendum plan in full

The Scottish Government was working on legislation to allow a second independence referendum last year, though it was suspended on March 16, 2020 as “a result of the need to deploy as many civil servants as possible to work on Scotland’s response to the pandemic”.

But in last September’s Programme for Government, Nicola Sturgeon said independence was vital to reversing Brexit and allowing Scotland to rejoin its European allies.

She told MSPs: “That is why, before the end of this Parliament, we will publish a draft bill, setting out the proposed terms and timing of an independence referendum, as well as the proposed question that people will be asked in that referendum. And then at next year’s election, we will make the case for Scotland to become an independent country, and seek a clear endorsement of Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”

The roadmap says this bill would be enacted “if an SNP Scottish Government is re-elected with a majority to do so (either as a result of gaining an overall majority or if it had such a majority as a result of support from another pro-independence party)”.

It makes clear that any referendum “must be beyond legal challenge to ensure legitimacy and acceptance at home and abroad”.

There is debate over whether Scotland has the power to hold a vote on independence.

Schedule 5 of the Scotland Act 1998 reserves the Union of the Kingdoms of Scotland and England to Westminster.

While this has been widely interpreted to mean that Holyrood does not have the competence to hold indyref2, it has not, until recently, been challenged in the courts.

However, a Section 30 order allows the Scotland Act to be amended to explicitly give the Scottish Parliament the power to hold the vote.

That’s what happened in 2014.

If pro-independence parties win the majority of seats in May – and almost every poll suggests they will – the SNP will “again request a Section 30 order from the UK Government believing and publicly contending that in such circumstances there could be no moral or democratic justification for denying that request”.

READ MORE: Scotland's Lord Advocate under fire for trying to halt Section 30 legal challenge

The SNP argues that the UK Government’s refusal would “be unsustainable both at home and abroad”.

However, the party makes clear even if Downing Street doesn’t consent, they will hold a referendum anyway.

It will then be up to the UK Government to either “agree that the Scottish Parliament already has the power to legislate for a referendum” or “agree the Section 30” or “take legal action to dispute the legal basis of the referendum and seek to block the will of the Scottish people in the courts”.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon and her Brexit minister Michael Russell leave 10 Downing Street after a Joint Ministerial Council meeting. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire.

Michael Russell and Nicola Sturgeon believe independence is vital to reverse Brexit

Michael Russell, the Scottish Government’s Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution told The National that the referendum should be held “after the pandemic, at a time to be decided by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament”.

He said the SNP believes that should be “in the early part of the new term”.

Russell added: “People in Scotland have the right to decide their future – not Boris Johnson.

“The pandemic is the overriding priority at present but when that subsides the people of Scotland must have the right to decide how best to rebuild our country.

“That right to choose will be central to our election campaign message.”

He added: “If the SNP is returned to office at the vital Scottish Parliamentary elections in May and there is a pro-independence majority at Holyrood, there can be no democratic or moral justification whatsoever to deny people in Scotland their democratic right to choose a better future.”

He promised that if Scotland “votes for a legal referendum on the 6th of May this year, that is what it will get”.

READ MORE: Gordon Brown compares Scottish independence supporters to Donald Trump

Last month, Johnson said a second referendum should not be held until at least 2055.

He told the BBC’s Andrew Marr: “Referendums in my experience are not particularly jolly events.”

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