THE SNP may be set to roll back plans for a de facto independence referendum at the next General Election with major changes to the proposals at a key meeting today.

Last year First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that if the Supreme Court determined Holyrood could not legally hold a vote, the next Westminster election would be treated as indyref2 – and if the SNP won a majority of overall votes, negotiations to remove Scotland from the Union could begin with the UK Government.

However according to The Times, an option is set to be presented to the party’s National Executive Committee on Saturday changing the terms of such a vote.

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Instead, the document reportedly says the result of the election would represent a show of support for holding indyref2 rather than a trigger for independence negotiations.

In addition, it apparently calls for a majority of pro-independence MPs winning the election to be the threshold for that rather than a majority of overall votes under the First Past the Post system.

It appears that should a majority of pro-independence MPs be elected, the proposal would see the SNP argue that they have a mandate for “the necessary transfer of power” from Westminster – effectively a Section 30 order.

The technical details of the de facto referendum are set to be thrashed out at a special conference in March, though the strategy presented to SNP members will be discussed at this weekend’s NEC meet-up.

How the de facto indyref should work has been a source of debate within the independence movement, with MPs this week stepping up the conversation around how best to use the next election.

Writing in The National on Saturday, SNP MP and the party’s constitution spokesperson at Westminster Tommy Sheppard called for each ballot to be used as a “stepping stone towards independence”.

The National: SNP MP for Edinburgh East Tommy Sheppard..Pic Gordon Terris/The Herald/Sunday National.15/8/19.

He said both Westminster and Holyrood’s next elections, in 2024 and 2026, should be fought on the issue of independence, with calls for updates to the devolution settlement allowing the Scottish Parliament to hold indyref2 to be featured in the SNP manifesto.

Writing in The National, Sheppard said: “Much has been said recently about the pros and cons of using an election as a de-facto referendum. Some have argued that the next Westminster election should be a vote on independence.

“Others have argued that a Holyrood election would be the better option. But why don’t we use both?

“For too long we’ve been chasing the next election, hoping it would be the vote which delivers independence. We need a longer-term plan which uses each and every democratic event as a stepping-stone towards independence.”

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Earlier this week Pete Wishart, the party’s longest serving MP, said the referendum would be a “massive gamble” for the movement – but warned that giving up would just mean continuing the constitutional deadlock.

SNP MP Angus MacNeil has been calling for Holyrood to be dissolved and a de facto referendum held at a Scottish Parliament election, in order to allow the full franchise to participate in the vote.

However, Wishart said this option would lead to backlash and “First Minister Douglas Ross”.