NICOLA Sturgeon has given her “unequivocal” backing to the SNP’s new independence strategy after members voted against plans for a de facto referendum.

On Sunday at SNP conference, delegates voted to treat winning a majority of Scottish seats at the next General Election (29 out of 57) as a mandate to open negotiations with the UK Government.

The strategy is different to that proposed by Sturgeon during her time as SNP leader, which would have seen winning 50%+1 of the vote treated the same as winning a referendum.

It is also different to that first proposed by Humza Yousaf, the First Minister, who had initially said the SNP should aim only to win the “most seats”, a lower threshold than a majority.

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Asked for her reaction to SNP members backing a different plan to either her’s or Yousaf’s, Sturgeon said: “Look, one of the reasons that I took the decision to step down was that I believed I had given my all on moving the country to independence, that I had taken it as far as I could.

“I think in those circumstances it was right, in fact, it was my objective, that the party took the time to consider the way forward it wanted to adopt. It did that yesterday.

“It did that unanimously, as far as I could see yesterday, and that position has my full unequivocal support.”

Speaking to a crowd of journalists at the entrance to the SNP conference, the former first minister also gave her view on what the party needed to do to win votes at future elections.

She said: “What the party is doing, what the party needs to do, is remember and remind people why we won so many elections in the past 20 years now.

“It’s about being on the side of people who aspire for a better life for themselves and their kids, it’s about standing up and providing a voice for people who are often marginalised, where necessary standing up to vested interests, and always standing up for Scotland and making the connection between our belief in independence and those issues that people have as priorities.”

Asked about suggestions that her appearance at the conference could overshadow or undermine the First Minister – suggestions which Yousaf had earlier laughed off – Sturgeon was also dismissive.

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“Not at all,” she said. “I’ve been watching from afar. This is a very different conference experience for me than the ones that I’ve been used to, but I’ve been watching from afar over the course of yesterday.

“You know that I think Humza’s doing a fantastic job as leader of the party and as First Minister, and I don’t think there’s any doubt, from what I’ve seen, about who is in charge of this conference and it’s Humza Yousaf.”

Monday afternoon’s conference session later opened with a standing ovation for Sturgeon and her former deputy first minister John Swinney after delegates were asked to show appreciation for the party’s former top brass.