STEPHEN Flynn has said he is “hopeful” that a constitutional convention on independence will go ahead – but warned that the looming General Election is currently a “barrier”.

Speaking on The Nation Talks (TNT) Show by Independence Live, the SNP’s Westminster leader was probed on the timing for a constitutional convention.

SNP MP Joanna Cherry’s proposal to convene MSPs, MPs and representatives from across civic society to negotiate independence, as was done with devolution, was backed by party members at the October conference.

However, the plans would only kick in if the SNP wins the most Scottish seats at the next General Election.

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“I'm hopeful that we can get to a point where we can bring that together,” Flynn said.

“Of course, one of the big barriers to that happening, in probably the coming months, is a General Election.

“I can't imagine there's going to be many parties who are going to want to delve into that in advance of the public going to the polls.

“But you know, the inescapable reality of where we are at the moment and irrespective of the polls in relation to the SNP or otherwise, is that the independence figures remain pretty solid.”

The National:

Host John Drummond argued that the independence position would be strengthened if Scottish people were told categorically there would be a guaranteed constitutional convention.

Flynn replied: “I don't disagree with the premise of what you're saying, what I would maybe do is be a little bit of a devil's advocate when it comes to the practicalities of that because, of course, the only way to bring a constitutional convention together is to have willing participants.

“And it's probably going to be a little bit challenging for some people to get to sign up for something in advance of an election and say it’s definitely happening.

“But as a point of principle, in terms of what we want to see achieved, the party has been clear in that regard. And you know, the sooner we can do that the better.”

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The SNP MP for Aberdeen South added that this would require input from Yes supporters, those who oppose independence, and various parts of Scottish society to “chart that path forward because we need the log jam to be broken”.

However, he insisted that the issue of independence is “not going away” no matter who is in charge at Westminster after the next UK-wide ballot.

He added: “It's not going to go away whether there's a Labour Government, be that majority or minority, and it's for politicians in London to accept and to understand.

“But the thing that we can do whilst they are dithering is to try and galvanise that support, to bring together that wider civic society in Scotland, to have that national conversation about how we ensure that Scotland's democracy is respected and what powers we believe should be transferred to Scottish Parliament in the interim, but ultimately, how we make sure that ultimate power over our own future [is] transferred as soon as possible as well.”

The National: Joanna Cherry

Cherry’s amendment to the SNP leadership’s motion on independence strategy modelled a constitutional convention on the one established in 1989, credited with paving the way for the creation of the Scottish Parliament a decade later.

The group was formed of politicians of all parties – including the SNP who later withdrew from talks – trade unionists, representatives from the Church of Scotland and the Roman Catholic Church and business groups, among others.

If the SNP win the most seats at the next election, then the convention would be created by the Scottish Government and would need to be approved by Holyrood.

With the current majority of pro-independence MSPs, it would likely pass, albeit with fierce opposition from Unionist parties.

We told how trade union body STUC said it would be "open" to taking part in discussions in the future.