THE SNP’s leader at Westminster is to gather the party’s MPs together in the near future to discuss “sharpening the focus” on the drive for independence.

Ian Blackford told Scottish political journalists that some details of the plans would be revealed to the press once they had been shared inside the group. The development comes after Blackford last month told his colleagues in the Commons to prepare for a “new phase” of campaigning in the weeks to come.

At a briefing in London yesterday Blackford was asked by The National for some measures that may be involved in the new stage of campaigning. He pointed to Brexit and “the cost of living crisis” and said that some of the issues which his party had warned about regards leaving the EU were “now coming to pass”.

“I do have concerns about what looks like what’s going to be a winter of discontent,” he said. “It’s up to us in the context of all of that to say ‘well okay what’s the alternative?’”

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Blackford added: “It’s right coming through the Covid crisis, knowing that the government is going to bring forward a referendum bill that the SNP Westminster group is playing its part.”

He was then asked for concrete details about whether issues around the border and currency would be considered, if SNP MPs were going to look at the positive arguments for independence and whether it was enough to rely on “the winter of discontent” and on the unpopularity of the Boris Johnson in Scotland.

“I think it’s fair to say that I will be discussing with the group, I haven’t done it yet but I will be discussing with the group how we bring a sharpness and a focus to that, but I’ll say something about these things in the near future,” in said.

“I said I haven’t spoken to my group yet, let me speak to my group, there will be things that we can say, I’m not dodging this, I take the responsibilities seriously but you’ll see us bring a sharpening focus over the course of the period to come.”

Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants indyref2 to take place before the end of 2023, subject to the Covid pandemic being over. She wants the Prime Minister to agree to hold a referendum but if he does not do so the Scottish Government will legislate to have a new vote.

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During the briefing the SNP Westminster leader was also asked by The National for his views on the implication of a recent Supreme Court ruling on a Holyrood bill on children’s rights for the Scottish Government’s referendum bill in the Scottish Parliament.

The National: Angus MacNeil snp.

The bill is expected to be brought forward in the Scottish Parliament next year but SNP MP Angus MacNeil (above) said the court’s ruling that a bill seeking to incorporate a UN treaty on children’s rights into Scots law was outside the scope of Holyrood did not bode well for the referendum bill.

Blackford said his party’s aim was to win the “hearts and minds” and to build majority support for independence.

He added: “My job, my responsibility with others, with the First Minister, with Michael Russell as president, is to win the arguments for independence and that’s what I intend to focus on.”

Amid the Prime Minister’s refusal to agree to a new referendum, there is also frustration among some independence activists that the SNP have not made enough progress on bringing one about.

In an interview earlier this month the First Minister warned Johnson that “time was on her side” and that it would be “unthinkable” for the UK Government to block a second independence referendum.

Earlier Alister Jack, the Secretary of State for Scotland, said Downing Street would only consent to a new vote in 25 years, and only then if polls consistently showed that 60% of Scots supported one.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Sturgeon said: “I can’t look ahead and tell you exactly how this constitutional impasse is going to resolve itself, but it will resolve itself – and it will resolve itself on the side of democracy because actually, the alternative is pretty unthinkable.

"I’ve got democracy on my side … if they think it’s about playing a waiting game, I’ve probably got time on my side as well. You look at the demographics of the support for independence – well, I’m not sure that’s going to get you out of this conundrum.”