HUMZA Yousaf and Alex Salmond have been asked to form an alliance at the next election to “put independence first”.

Angus MacNeil, who was expelled from the SNP earlier this year, said Alba and his former party should not stand rival candidates in his Western Isles constituency in a bid to “maximise the votes for independence”.

The MP was in August kicked out of the SNP when he refused to take back the whip after he was suspended from the party because he was said to have missed key votes.

The National: Is Angus MacNeil helping or hindering the cause?

Salmond has previously touted the idea of a “Scotland United” ticket at the next election and would be expected to be receptive to MacNeil’s calls for unity among independence-supporting parties.

The “Scotland United” ticket would see Alba’s two MPs defend their seats, with most pro-Yes candidates being sitting SNP MPs.

Salmond has suggested independents like MacNeil could stand in their constituencies while the Scottish Greens could contest some seats.

He has claimed this idea would see the General Election – widely expected to take place next year – fought in Scotland on the issue of independence. But the SNP’s strategy for the next poll will see the party campaign both on independence and the cost-of-living crisis while attempting to link these issues together in voters’ minds.

'Ditch petty squabbles'

MacNeil called on the parties to ditch "petty squabbles" and said "normal politics can resume when Scotland is a normal country". 

In his letter to the SNP and Alba leaders, MacNeil wrote: “As you know times have not been great recently for the parties of independence.

“Nevertheless, things can be turned around, as the desire for independence is very much alive amongst the population, and think politicians who rise to support and promote, and debate independence will help get independence across the line.

“To that end, I think we should be putting independence before parties and collaborate together.

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“Here in the Hebrides, I will be standing on an Independence for Scotland ticket.

“Whilst over on the mainland I do hope that you two can work together to maximise votes for independence, rather than the lower aim of votes for your respective parties.

“At this stage, we must rise to the occasion and away from petty squabbles.

“Therefore, I hope that both of you will work with me to maximise the votes for independence.

“The most obvious way to do that is not to have another party candidate, in this constituency and other constituencies, aping the principal candidate's message and splitting the vote, which would have the likely unfortunate result of damaging the reputation of your parties.

“Instead, a sort of pan-independence alliance should be formed, we must put independence first, once that is secured then normal politics can resume when Scotland is a normal country.

“With the population almost there for independence, we should now be putting all other matters aside and make the Westminster election about independence where all votes aggregate together in an independence alliance.

“Obviously, there would be much to consider between Alba and the SNP.

“If I may be so bold, the SNP would have the lion's share of the seats, where they have the principal candidate, but clearly there are a few seats where Alba obviously has the principal candidate.

“In seats held by non-independence parties you may have to discuss which party should go forward with the principal candidates for independence.

“Finally, a word of warning, if it happens that you decide to put party first then what has happened in the past will only happen again and people will be fighting for independence for years to come because an opportunity to secure it will have been squandered.

“I trust however that good sense will prevail, and we can all work together.”

The National: Humza Yousaf

Alba have previously made similar overtures to the SNP, to no avail.

The party argue that their strategy would address the SNP’s problem of declining popularity while support for independence remains steady.

An SNP spokesperson said: "As for all elections, the SNP will be standing candidates in all Scottish constituencies in the upcoming General Election. 

"At the next general election, voting SNP is the only way to stand up for Scotland, secure real help with the cost of living and offer people the chance to build a better future as an independent country."

Alba were approached for comment. It is understood the party does not plan to stand a candidate against MacNeil in the Western Isles.