NICOLA Sturgeon is to launch the SNP’s long-awaited “summer initiative” on independence this week with a new focus on how the Brexit scenario can strengthen the case for a Yes vote.

The First Minister will unveil the push in Stirling, at an away-day with her MSPs, MPs and MEPs, which parliamentarians have been told they must attend.

The initiative was delayed after the EU vote in June, but will now be launched on Friday, just before Holyrood returns from summer recess, according to a report yesterday.

Last week the Scottish Government’s Government Revenue and Expenditure Scotland figures (Gers) showed public spending in Scotland was £14.8 billion more than was raised in tax in 2015-16 because of the oil price collapse.

The deficit, equivalent to 9.5 per cent of Scottish GDP, was higher than Greece’s 7.2 per cent deficit.

But Sturgeon insisted the Scottish economy remained on firm foundations and Gers did not represent the “day one” of a future independent Scotland.

One parliamentarian due to attend the meeting on Friday told The National that Brexit and the need for a stronger economic argument on independence would form part of the day’s discussions.

“The draft agenda for the meeting is quite general. There is a session on post-Brexit, what happens next and I believe the independence initiative will come up in that context,” he said.

“The GERS figures and the economic argument for independence will also come up. The GERS figures don’t provide a good indication of what the economy would be like under independence because there are so many presumptions about the Union that don’t apply if we split.

“It’s not to say that if we were independent we would be deficit free, presumably like other countries it would go up and down in line with the economic cycle. Do we need to update our economic case for independence? Yes we do, but it’s not going to happen in one meeting on Friday.”

A source close to the First Minister told the Sunday Herald the new push would be about “engaging with the public and taking their views”.

He added: “It’s the first stage in gathering people’s views of independence, what works for them and what doesn’t, the benefits and the perceived difficulties.”

The source said the initiative would look at how spending priorities could change after independence using future North Sea oil revenue and money saved from scrapping Trident.

The meeting also comes some six weeks ahead of the SNP’s annual conference when independence will again take centre stage on the agenda after it was controversially absent from the party’s main conference last year.

A resolution published in the draft agenda for the three-day event calls for the country to prepare for a second independence referendum if Scotland’s EU membership is not safeguarded once the UK exits the bloc.

It says: “Conference believes that every avenue must be explored to keep Scotland in the EU. If no viable solution to safeguard our membership as part of the UK exists, Scotland should prepare for a second independence referendum and seek to remain in Europe as an independent country.”

The resolution was put down by Toni Giugliano, of the SNP’s Edinburgh Western branch, and also welcomes the result that 62 per cent of voters in Scotland backed the remain case, and expresses disappointment that the UK voted overall to leave.