THE SNP’s Independence Convention couldn't be more important than it is now, Stephen Flynn has said, as he hinted the First Minister will make an “impressive” public statement at the event.

The party’s Westminster group leader told The National’s Holyrood Weekly podcast that Humza Yousaf will “set out his stall” on the route forward, following the Supreme Court ruling Holyrood does not have the competence to legislate for an independence referendum without the UK Government’s permission.

Ahead of the first in-person event for the SNP since Nicola Sturgeon resigned as first minister, Flynn, 34, was reluctant to commit himself to supporting a de facto referendum ahead of the convention, contrary to what he said in January of this year under her leadership.

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However, the Aberdeen South MP told the podcast he has been “listening very closely to what different people’s views are” across the party ahead of the event.

He also insisted the party had "plenty of time" to prepare ahead of the next General Election, predicted to be in late 2024, a year or so on from the party's full conference in October, where the final decision on independence strategy will be made.

“I'm excited about it,” he said.

“I went to my first SNP conference, such a long time ago,when I had lots of hair and a young face and I always found it very inspiring to hear from the speakers, to listen and to learn.

“This is obviously not a conference, it's a slightly different thing, it's a convention, and I think it's actually really important that the party comes together.”

Taking our reporters through the agenda for the independence convention in Caird Hall, Dundee, on Saturday June 24, Flynn said he was looking forward to hearing the FM “setting out his case in terms of what's the best route forward”.

“I'm sure members are excited to hear about that as well,” he added.

“I mean, why wouldn't we be? Because we're the party of independence, and we've got the opportunity to spend the weekend talking about independence.

“It's a good thing and it can never be more important than now, given all the other challenges that we face, most of which are being driven by Westminster.”

Speaking to The National, SNP policy chief Toni Giugliano (below) added the convention would be a "firing gun moment" for the party's strategy ahead of the General Election next year.

He said: "Activists are already taking our message to doorsteps across Scotland but the Convention, alongside the other democratic events planned across the summer, will consolidate our vision for Scotland. 

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"The SNP's political strategy will be shaped and influenced by its membership - that's how it works in modern European political parties.

"However, this event will be different to the National Assembly formats that we've seen in the past - there will be more opportunity for members to have their say and I'm looking forward to hearing contributions from activists across Scotland as well as voices from across the Yes movement.

"The General Election is our opportunity to say enough is enough. Our offer must be a prospectus for economic and social transformation that increases living standards, boosts opportunities and quality of life."

Flynn was asked if he still stood by comments he made prior to Sturgeon’s resignation that he’d prefer to fight a de facto referendum at the next General Election.

He said: “I am very, very aware of the fact that in politics landscapes can change, views can change, there's lots of different opinions out there amongst my colleagues, amongst the membership.

“I've been listening very closely to what different people's views are.

“I think it's important in the run up to the convention, that the party leader was given the space to set out their stall, and I'm not going to prejudge or preempt or give away any secrets ahead of Saturday, you'll need to forgive me for that one.

“But I'm looking forward to what Humza’s got to say, and I think he's going to impress a lot of people at the weekend.”

Asked if that meant he was unsure of his position on a de facto referendum ahead of the event, he replied: “I'm definitely always sure where I stand on such things.

“But I think it's important … I've got as loud a voice as many others in this discussion, and you know, we're in the run up to a convention and the First Minister is going to be setting out their stall there, his stall in relation to where we need to go.

“He's going to have my full support, once he does that publicly, and I don't want to preempt what he says."

Despite repeated questioning, Flynn remained tight-lipped on what the FM’s statement could contain - but insisted that independence would be “front and centre” of any future campaign.

Episode 24 of Holyrood Weekly with Stephen Flynn is available to listen on The National’s website, the Omny streaming platform, and Spotify.