IN response to Charlie Kerr (in your letters columns) and to avoid any misunderstandings, my flagging up of the possibility of the 2026 election being used as a direct independence vote is not “punting it into the future” but to put a time limit on the uses of the ballot box for independence, if a referendum is blocked or denied in the years until then (Why next election should be a backstop indy vote, July 17).

Hopefully, there will be no need for the “Backstop Independence Vote” in 2026, using ballot boxes at the expected Scottish Parliamentary election, as the people will have spoken under the Scottish franchise method before that, with the very same ballot boxes, in a referendum.

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil says 2026 election may have to be our independence vote

Remember, there is no guarantee at the moment that the Scottish Parliament has the powers for a referendum, hence the Scottish Government’s “11-Point Plan” expects a challenge in courts when they legislate for a referendum. It does not matter who the government of Scotland is in this respect, the SNP or Alba or The Man in the Moon, if the parliament doesn’t have the powers – it thus does not have the powers to hold a referendum on independence.

In such a scenario Scotland will not be able to speak at the ballot box on independence until 2026. However, the threat of an election potentially being very overtly used for independence may force the UK Government to concede the referendum rather than face the tidal wave of resentment their obstruction would cause by 2026.

And of course I would prefer a referendum next year or the year after but the alternative, of not preparing a “backstop vote” in 2026, is waiting until the penny drops with people that a parliament denied powers to hold a referendum on independence will have to use an election.

Let us not wait until 2031 to do something we could have done years earlier. We should plan, discuss, and debate with respect in the meantime.

Angus B MacNeil MP
via email