THE publication of the SNP’s proposals for a way forward to an independence referendum come as an emphatic 20th successive poll shows majority support for independence.

The new Panelbase poll reveals 52% of people in Scotland support Scottish independence and also found a majority of people in Scotland want a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in the next parliamentary term at Holyrood.

Pollsters also asked people on how they feel the pandemic was being handled, with 61% of people saying they thought First Minister Nicola Sturgeon had done a good job, compared with 64% of people thinking Boris Johnson had done a bad job.

READ MORE: Stunning new poll is 20th in a row to put majority for independence ahead

SNP Depute Leader Keith Brown MSP said: “With 20 consecutive polls putting support for independence above 50%, it’s clear that people in Scotland believe they have the right to decide their own future – rather than being subjected to Westminster governments that they don’t vote for, led by the likes of Boris Johnson.”

Meanwhile, the SNP’s new route mat to indyref2, revealed exclusively in yesterdays National, has been welcomed by those who have argued against pursuing routes to a vote which could be viewed as not legitimate both at home and abroad.

Others who have long called for other “Plan Bs” to be considered by the SNP in the face of the “Boris-veto” say that different options will still need to be considered.

One of the SNP politicians who has previously put forward alternative suggestions for a Plan B is MP Joanna Cherry QC.

She said she was “pleasantly surprised” that arguments which she and others had advanced are now “finally” being pursued.

She said: “I hope all SNP members will now unite around the recognition that we need a Plan B, by which I mean a strategy which does not rely on Westminster granting a Section 30 order.

“However I have many questions about the detail of this new strategy including the timetable and I intend to pursue these questions at today’s SNP National Assembly. 

“I hope that other plans such as that advanced by Chris McEleny in his detailed and interesting paper will also be discussed.”

Cherry said the announcement could also have “major implications” for the Keatings case on the Scottish Parliament’s powers to hold a referendum, which was heard in the Court of Session last week.

“The position advanced on behalf of the Lord Advocate was that the question of the Scottish parliament’s competence to pass a bill to hold an independence referendum was both hypothetical and premature,” she said.

“This is now no longer the case and I suspect the court may wish to revisit this matter.”

READ MORE: SNP unveils plan to hold indyref2 – even if Boris Johnson says no

MP Pete Wishart said the National Assembly was being held at a time when support for independence is at sustained majority, support for the SNP at an all-time high and satisfaction in First Minister Nicola Sturgeon was at “stratospheric levels”.

He backed the commitment to a referendum and warned the party must not be forced down an “unpalatable” and “unacceptable” route due to impatience.

He said: “Everybody knows a referendum is coming and our historic ambition is now almost ours to grasp.  “We now have an 11-point plan. The SNP will ask the Scottish people to back a referendum and that referendum will then be held. We now all have to get behind this and ensure we win.

“I know that there are some in our movement who profoundly believe that there won’t be another referendum but the Tories are preparing, and are amassing a vast array of resources to win it.

“We could soon be knee-deep in the next referendum and there will still be those swearing blind ‘it will never happen’. We must be campaign ready and prepared at short notice.”

Wishart said the Tories hope was the SNP would be forced down a route that would be “unpalatable” to the Scottish people and “unacceptable” to the international community.

“They are hoping that the impatience and frustration builds so that dead ends such as ‘plebiscites’ and UDIs somehow become acceptable to the SNP,” he added.

“They know that if they get us to that point they will have us beaten, we must not oblige them.

“We must campaign by taking ‘all’ our support with us based on the referendum commitment which has built the current support for indy.

“That begins with winning big in May with our manifesto commitment for an indyref without condition or caveat.

“There are no short cuts to our ambition and if we do this right, that prize we all seek will soon be ours.”

One of the SNP’s leading Plan B campaigners, councillor Chris McEleny, argued that the Scottish Government already has existing mandates for a vote, adding that if “we always play Westminster’s game, we will always lose.”

He said: “It is clear from the past few years that the UK Government will not respect past precedents, therefore it is incumbent on the Scottish Government to secure the right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future without relying on the consent of the UK Government.

“Had the SNP allowed a debate on a Plan B to secure independence two years ago when it was clear one was needed, then the Scottish people would certainly be expressing their choice at the ballot box at this year’s Scottish Parliament Election. 

“The Scottish Government must progress with a referendum now, setting Boris Johnson a deadline to agree to a Section 30 order before the election. Why wait until after the election to ask his permission, again, when we already have several mandates to hold an independence referendum?”

“When we said we had a mandate if Scotland was dragged out of Europe, did we not really mean that?”

He added: “In order that the outcome of this year’s election allows the case for Scottish independence to be progressed, as opposed to another mandate being stored in the trophy cabinet at the party’s HQ, we must now seize the initiative. 

“The opportunity to turn May’s election into a defacto referendum must not be squandered, or ruled out, especially if it may be the only opportunity to test the independence question for many years to come.”

MP Angus MacNeil, who has also long pushed for a Plan B option, said there was no guarantee in the plan outlined by Russell that a referendum could happen.

He said: “The hard question has to be asked why would Mr Russell, or his successors post his retirement, want to spend years in courts rather than enable the Scottish people to decide on independence in 102 days time on the 6th of May?

“Boris Johnson is going to block referendums either by refusing a Section 30 or pulling powers from the Scottish Parliament if the courts don’t rule it impossible first, so it is now time for some in the SNP to stop blocking the possibility of independence in May, and to instead unite and ask the people the question this May.”