PETE Wishart has insisted the SNP must make every General Election going forward a de facto independence referendum until the UK Government engages with them.

First Minister Humza Yousaf said in June that a win for the SNP would be a mandate to apply further pressure for Scottish independence.

But that fell short of the de facto referendum strategy put forward by his predecessor Nicola Sturgeon in the wake of defeat at the Supreme Court, which ruled Holyrood could not hold an independence vote without Westminster’s permission.

Veteran MP Wishart has, however, said “flesh and bones” must be added to Yousaf’s pledge to “ensure it is credible”.

He has said that if more than 50% of Scots vote for an SNP manifesto, that will prove the country wants to leave the UK and the party should commence negotiations to make this happen.

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He added this should be the approach to every General Election from now on until the UK Government is prepared to agree a process to settle Scotland’s constitutional future.

In a piece for The National, Wishart said: “We have already decided that the next Westminster election will be an independence election in Scotland. 

“What we have to do is add flesh to the bones of this intention. We have to ensure it is credible and is democratic to its core.

"We need to now say clearly that if 50+1% of the Scottish people vote for an SNP manifesto that proclaims that Scotland will become an independent country then we will secure our independence. That Scotland has voted to become an independent nation and we will commence the negotiations that would lead to Scotland leaving the UK. 

“People will rightly ask what happens if the UK simply ignore the result of this de-facto referendum?  In response, we acknowledge that this will almost certainly be the case, but that is not a matter for us.

The National: Humza Yousaf said indepndence will be front and centre in the General Election Humza Yousaf said indepndence will be front and centre in the General Election (Image: PA)

“What they can’t ignore or take away is the fact that the Scottish people have voted for independence and that changes everything. We will have delivered a result that shows the majority of Scots want Scotland to be an independent nation. This would be a mandate to assert ourselves as a nation.

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“Every election we now contest will be a de facto referendum until the UK Government is prepared to agree a process to settle the question of Scotland’s constitutional future.”

Wishart – who has been an SNP MP since 2001 – has also criticised those in the movement who slated the extent the SNP went to try and secure the transfer of a Section 30 order and subsequently the right to hold a referendum without this.

He said the party cannot continue to go over “old ground” and must move forward with a new strategy, but he insisted they had to everything possible to secure the “gold standard” referendum.

“Let’s get one thing abundantly clear; an agreed referendum remains the best possible way to settle the issue of Scottish independence,” added Wishart.

“The Edinburgh Agreement remains an exemplar of two governments coming together to design a democratic, clear process that allows a full debate and an agreed conclusive outcome. It was absolutely right that we committed every sinew to try and ensure that once again.

“It was also right to disregard any other alternative that got in the way of trying to secure this ‘gold standard’ of democratic engagement. Our focus had to be on securing a referendum as it is the one thing that would achieve a clear result, that would be beyond legal doubt and pave by far the smoothest path to Scotland becoming an independent country.

“When it became clear the UK Government had no intention of agreeing to a referendum, it was absolutely right to try and determine a process designed by the Scottish Parliament. It was also right that we ensured that, before embarking upon that journey, we had the powers and legal authority to carry it out.

“There will be those who will tell us that we should have known this all along, that we should have had a Plan B. They are totally and utterly wrong. We had to fully exhaust this process.”