NO UK party is ever going to put Scotland “on a conveyer belt to independence”, an SNP MP has said, after a former Yes strategist said we need to take independence “more slowly” than the party is suggesting.

Stephen Noon, the chief strategist of the Yes Scotland campaign, said on Question Time independence could take “10 to 20 years” as he stressed the need to become “independent well”.

He spoke about how he believed the political energy had “shifted” since the referendum, adding those who believe in a stronger Scottish Parliament should now be persuading Labour to make Holyrood “as strong as possible”.

While suggesting independence could be decades off, he said “we have to take it slightly more slowly than the SNP is maybe arguing for publicly at the moment.”

SNP MPs react

Joanna Cherry said she agreed with Noon on needing to build a “settled will” for independence, but was more pessimistic about Labour agreeing to more powers for Holyrood.

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She told The National: “No UK political party is going to put Scotland on a conveyor belt to independence.

“That is never going to happen regardless of who is in power at Westminster, to suggest otherwise is folly.

“The forthcoming general election is going to be about Labour's offer to people in England.

“Any suggestion of federalism or full fiscal autonomy for Scotland would require a radical change to the make-up of the UK. I do not believe there is any support, far less a majority in England for a dilution in the power of the Westminster parliament to accommodate Scotland.

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“With Scotland's energy resources and potential for green jobs, the first additional power needed for the Scottish Parliament is full control of energy production, distribution, charging, and the taxation of energy companies. This would put a significant dent in Labour's UK energy policy.

“Where I do agree with Stephen Noon (below) however is that what is needed is to build a settled will for independence in Scotland and unlike Brexit, to have very detailed planning on how we transition to statehood and for the first years of an independent nation.”

Fellow SNP MP Pete Wishart was much more on board with Noon’s approach.

The National:

As part of their independence strategy agreed at this year's conference, the SNP concluded if the UK Government continues to refuse the demands of the Scottish people to decide their own future, consideration will be given to fighting the Scottish Parliament election in 2026 as a de facto referendum.

Wishart has repeatedly expressed his support for a de facto referendum having argued for that approach in the General Election, but he believes until that is done the party needs to press for as much power for Scotland as it can.

He said: “2026 is a long way away.

“We’re going to be in a Westminster Parliament where the Labour Party are going to win by a country mile in the UK. They are going to bring forward an agenda of constitutional reform, they are committed to it anyway.

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“I think that what Stephen suggests is the territory we need to start to get into. We need to use this time to give ourselves a relevance about how we move Scotland forward and push Labour to the absolute maximum of what is achievable within the UK.

“If it is to be a longer process, we need to start talking about other objectives and ambitions and if that means getting nearly everything we’re after then that’s the place we have to go.

“I will argue until my last breath we should be having a proper de facto referendum, but if we can’t do that when we do have to get into this territory.”

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Tommy Sheppard (above), the SNP’s Scotland spokesperson, said he felt Noon’s outlook was “pessimistic” and the party should always be pressing the case for independence as urgently as possible.

He added he saw “no great merit” in trying to float a timeframe for self-determination.

“He might be right, it might take a long time, but you don’t plan for it to be a long time,” said Sheppard.

“You have to press the case as urgently as possible and move at the best speed you can.

“I don’t see any great merit in trying to describe a timeframe for this in the way Stephen has done. One could speculate it might [take decades], but we might find ourselves being able to move within a year.

“There might be a Labour government that requires the support of the SNP to be able to govern and in those circumstances it would be a reasonable ask of that government to respect the views of the Scottish Parliament and if the Scottish Parliament determines it should consult people on independence that must be allowed to proceed.

“I don’t think you can be prescriptive about this. We make the case as urgently as possible and we seize every opportunity to advance the case.”