Should the SNP win a majority of seats, First Minister Humza Yousaf has promised to open secession talks with London.
The Scottish National Party (SNP) will begin immediate negotiations with the British government on leaving the United Kingdom if it wins a majority of Scottish seats at next year’s general election, according to a new strategy signed by First Secretary Humza Yousaf.
Authored by the SNP’s Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn, the strategy is outlined in a motion approved by Yousaf earlier this week, which will be debated at a party conference in Aberdeen next month.
The motion states that if the SNP wins a majority of Scottish seats, “the Scottish Government is empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country,” iNews reported on Thursday.
The motion also explains that Scottish lawmakers would publish a document outlining the terms of independence talks, as well as a “draft legal text on the transfer of powers” from Westminster.
Under Yousaf’s predecessor, Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland held a referendum on leaving the UK in 2014. Although the public voted 55-44% to remain in the UK, Sturgeon and Yousaf have both claimed that support for independence has risen since Britain left the EU in 2016, with Sturgeon promising a second referendum last year, and Yousaf now proposing that his party could jump straight into talks if elected.
Yousaf has also promised that he would seek EU membership if Scotland wins its independence.
Successive Conservative British prime ministers have said that they would not honor a second referendum. Asked on Friday whether he thinks Labour Party Leader Keir Starmer would be more open to talks, he replied “it’s really a question for Keir Starmer.”
“If we are given another mandate from the people of Scotland, to put independence into democratic effect, who is he to deny the people of Scotland?” he continued.
Yousaf added that since Westminster is unlikely to approve a second referendum, “we have to use the next election to do that.”
Yousaf’s strategy has been heavily criticized, with former SNP Leader Alex Salmond telling reporters on Friday that “no one seriously believes that proposing a majority of seats as an independence mandate is at all credible.”
“Given that Westminster have been allowed over repeated elections to dismiss a majority of SNP seats as a mandate for a mere referendum, why on earth would they concede it as a mandate for negotiating independence itself?” Salmond asked.
Eight out of ten major polls taken since mid-June show negative public support for independence, with one poll tied and another showing a narrow 48%-45% lead for the pro-independence side.