THE Scottish Greens have vowed to fight the next general election as a “de-facto independence referendum” if plans to stage a referendum next year are blocked.

At a meeting of the party’s national council on Sunday, the party said if there was no second referendum in October 2023 on the future of Scotland’s place in the UK, it would fight the election on the constitutional question.

Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens’ co-leaders, said in a statement: “The people of Scotland have repeatedly returned pro-independence majorities to Holyrood and Westminster.

“They must have their say.”

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First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said last month that she intends to hold another independence referendum on October 19 2023, but only if the Supreme Court ruled it was legal.

The policy brings the Scottish Greens in line with the SNP, who have also said the next general election would be fought on the single issue of independence if judges shoot down a second vote.

Liz Truss pledged on Sunday she would block a second referendum if she wins the Tory leadership contest. 

“Any Scotland independence referendum would need to be authorised by the Westminster parliament. If I become prime minister, I would not grant that authority,” she said.

Her claim is contentious as the Scottish Government's independence referendum bill is currently before the Supreme Court who will decide whether Holyrood has the power to hold a second vote. 

Harvie and Slater, whose party aims to stand a candidate in every constituency for the first time, said: “Our preference is still for a referendum to take place in October 2023.

“Should that prove impossible, then we will contest the next UK general election as a de-facto referendum.

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“In that circumstance we want to put the unique Green case for independence to every voter in Scotland.

“And every vote cast on that basis will count as a vote for Scotland to become a Green and independent country.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of the group Scotland in Union, claimed there was “no such thing as a de facto referendum”.

The former Labour MP for Airdrie and Shotts said: “People vote for parties in an election on a whole range of issues, and the next election will be about the economy, the climate emergency and many other topics.

“Just like Nicola Sturgeon, the Greens are acting against the will of the people of Scotland.

“Poll after poll shows that the vast majority of us do not want a second referendum, and want the government to focus on what really matters.

“Rather than divide the people of Scotland, as part of the UK we can invest more in public services, work together to tackle the climate emergency, and unite our people and communities.”