THE SNP's National Executive Committee has unanimously agreed the wording of a draft resolution to be debated at the party’s Special Democracy Conference in March.

The resolution, debated at a meeting on Saturday, offers election-based options to allow the Scots to express their will. It also makes clear that this route will be “a mandate to enter negotiations with the UK Government to secure independence”.

The draft re-states that the SNP’s preferred route to establishing the will of the people of Scotland on independence is a referendum.

The resolution proposes as the principal option that the SNP contests the next Westminster election as a de facto referendum.

The alternative option of contesting the next Scottish Parliament election as a de facto referendum is also set out.

SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said the resolution sets out an alternative option “in the interest of a full and open debate” at the conference.

It comes after a leak to The Times revealed that the NEC would be considering a plan to treat the result of a Westminster election as a show of support for holding indyref2 rather than a trigger for independence negotiations.

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The Special Conference was called by SNP following the judgment of the UK Supreme Court which concluded that the Scottish Parliament does not have power under the Scotland Act 1998 to legislate for a referendum on independence without the agreement of the UK government.

SNP constituency associations, branches and affiliated organisations will be able to submit motions and amendments for debate before the final agenda for the Conference is agreed in the coming weeks.

Sturgeon further commented on the purpose of the conference and what the party hopes to achieve, contributing a collective aim to the Yes movement.

She said: “Westminster is denying democracy because it fears the verdict of the Scottish people on independence. There is a cast iron democratic mandate for a referendum, and this remains the SNP’s preferred route to establishing the will of the people of Scotland.

"However, if Westminster continues to block a referendum - and if Scottish democracy is not to be negated as a result - an alternative democratic means of allowing the people of Scotland to express their will must be found.

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"The purpose of the Special Democracy Conference is to allow the SNP to debate and decide which alternative route it wishes to offer the people of Scotland. Given the significance of this decision for both the Party and the country, it is important that this debate is a full, free and open one - which is what the draft resolution seeks to enable.

"It sets out - as I did last June - the option of contesting the next Westminster election as a de facto referendum. However, in the interests of a full and open debate, it also sets out the alternative option of contesting the next Scottish Parliament election on this basis.

"I am looking forward to the discussions that the Party will have in the run up to and at this important Conference, and I know it will then unite behind a course of action that will enable us to make and win the case for independence.

"While this will be a debate on the process of securing independence, it is one that will be guided by a fundamental principle - that the future of Scotland must and will be decided by the people of Scotland, not by Westminster politicians."

Motion text in full

Conference restates the SNP’s founding belief that the best future for Scotland is as an independent nation, and reiterates the following principles:

1. The decision on whether or not Scotland should become an independent country is for the Scottish people and for them alone.

2. A lawful, democratic referendum - conducted on a similar basis to the referendum of 2014 - is the best and most appropriate means by which to determine the question of independence;

3. Decisions on the timing of and arrangements for a referendum should be taken by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament;

4. The election of a majority of MSPs in favour of both independence and a referendum - as was achieved in 2021 - constitutes a clear mandate for a referendum to take place.

Conference agrees that its preferred route to establishing the will of the Scottish people on independence remains a referendum.

To that end, Conference requests that the Scottish Government continues all reasonable efforts to reach agreement with the UK government on the necessary transfer of power to enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum.

However, Conference notes the decision of the Supreme Court regarding the current powers of the Scottish Parliament in relation to such a referendum and agrees that it puts beyond doubt that the current law is inconsistent with the above principles, respect for Scottish democracy or the notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership of nations.

Conference therefore resolves that: In the absence of an agreement having been reached with the UK government to enable the Scottish Parliament to legislate for an independence referendum, the SNP will contest the next UK General Election as a de facto referendum.

The SNP will make clear that it is asking people to vote SNP in that election to indicate that their answer to the question “Should Scotland be an independent country” is Yes - and that it will interpret votes for the SNP on that basis.

The SNP will set out - in advance of and during the election campaign - the inextricable link between that question and the issues that will be central to the election - the economy, public services and Scotland’s place in Europe and the world - in that independence is essential for Scotland to address these issues and build a fair and prosperous country.

If a majority of those voting in the election vote SNP - or if the combined votes for the SNP and any other party with which it has reached a pro independence agreement in advance of the election constitute a majority of votes cast - we will consider that a mandate to enter negotiations with the UK government to secure independence.