THE SNP need to place Brexit and its impact on the cost of living crisis “front and centre” of their case for independence as part of keeping it “relevant” to people, an ex-MP has insisted.

Stephen Gethins, who was the SNP MP North East Fife from 2015 to 2019, said the party needs to put more focus on how “pivotal” Brexit has been as a way of refreshing the independence argument almost a decade on from the referendum.

He added that the SNP need to keep listening to people on the doorsteps and ensure they move forward arguments for self-determination.

SNP members decided on a fresh independence strategy at the party’s conference last week which stated if it wins a majority of seats at the next General Election, that will give it the power to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government on Scotland becoming independent.

Alongside this, it was agreed a new Scotland-wide Yes campaign should be established by the end of the year.

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Gethins, who was the party’s Europe spokesman in the run-up to Brexit, said the SNP should now be driving home how the UK’s exit from the EU has “changed everything” as part of that campaign effort.

Asked if the SNP needed to place more focus on Brexit, he told The National: “I think they do.

“Regardless of whether or not you get Tories or Labour returned [at the General Election], with the way parliamentary democracy unfortunately works in the UK, then you might have a change in government but you will not have change in approach in terms of our relationship with Europe.

“The UK will continue to be isolated and we will continue to be poorer.

“So I think it’s absolutely still front and centre [of the independence argument]. The UK has cut itself off from its main market, it’s cut itself off from a Europe that’s changing in response to the war in Ukraine, and it’s cutting itself from a union that respects each and every one of its member states.

“Brexit has been pivotal to the cost of living crisis and so it must also be pivotal to that case for independence.”

Gethins – who has thrown his hat in the ring for selection as an SNP candidate in Arbroath and Broughty Ferry - insisted bringing Brexit into the picture more would make the independence case more relevant to people who are grappling with how to make ends meet.

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He said explaining how independence could alleviate people’s financial concerns will be key to gaining more supporters.

He added: “You’ve got to make it relevant to people [independence]. So, what’s the biggest thing people are worried about right now? They’re worried about the cost-of-living crisis. So, how does your argument for independence help alleviate that?

“Next year you will be a decade on from the independence referendum and you should always be looking to refresh that argument.

“Another bit of work the party needs to do – and this is continuing work - is we need to feed in from what people are telling you on the doors.

“We know that support for independence is still there, it’s still very strong, but we’d like to nudge it up further so we need to look at how we take it on to the next stage.

“I think, yes, there’s debates about strategy, but central to that for SNP members needs to be a debate about how you move forward the arguments for independence.”

Other key amendments which were passed as part of the strategy included Joanna Cherry's call for a constitutional convention "constituted by the MPs elected to Westminster, MSPs and representatives of civic Scotland". 

The agreed approach also included demands for a transfer of powers to allow Scotland to legislate for a referendum if the SNP wins the most seats in the election.