THE SNP are being urged to “get the ball rolling” on the de facto referendum and hold the special party conference to discuss plans for it within the first six weeks of the new year.

Toni Giugliano, the SNP’s policy development convener, said it was vital to get clarity fast on what the independence campaign was aiming to achieve in the next General Election.

Last week, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said her party would go ahead with plans to run the next national election on a single issue in a bid to secure majority support in the country, after the Supreme Court ruled the Scottish Parliament could not legislate for a referendum.

She said she would ask the SNP’s National Executive Committee to convene a special conference in the new year to discuss and agree the detail of a proposed de facto referendum.

Giugliano said: “I really welcome the special conference, I think the First Minister is right to ensure the party’s voice is heard in that process.

“But I think we need to move promptly as unless we do, the vacuum which currently exists around what is a de facto referendum and what isn’t, will be filled by unhelpful voices.

“We need that clarity promptly on what it is – so I would like to see that special conference happen in the first six weeks of the new year.

“It is an opportunity for the grassroots and the party to be able to shape the strategy and how we move forward on this.”

Giugliano said his view was that a de facto referendum is about “bringing the UK Government to a negotiating table”.

“If that were to lead to a Section 30 order for example, then that would be a huge win for Scotland, it would be a huge win for the movement as it is something we are unable to guarantee right now,” he said.

“I think we need to be frank and honest with people – this is not easy, there will be different stages and processes to this, there is no automatic or immediate way.

“As the Lord Advocate has just argued in her case, even with a referendum you still need to go onto negotiation, there is nothing automatic about independence on the back of that process.”