Evening Express

Independence movement in great health – SNP depute

The independence movement is in “great health,” according to SNP depute leader Keith Brown after the party’s biggest ever national assembly meeting.

Around 500 SNP members met in Edinburgh on Sunday at a policy development forum to debate a new economic blueprint for independence.

The party is holding a series of events to gather views on the findings of the Growth Commission, published in May.

National assemblies have already been held in Ayr and Aviemore ahead of the SNP’s autumn conference in October.

The Growth Commission, set up by Nicola Sturgeon and chaired by former SNP MSP Andrew Wilson, set out a series of recommendations for the economy in an independent Scotland.

Its proposals include keeping Sterling without a formal currency union after Scotland leaves the UK.

The First Minister has insisted the report sets out an alternative to Westminster’s “austerity”, but the document has been criticised by some Yes supporters.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Andrew Wilson with the Growth Commission report in May (PA)

Mr Brown said the recent meetings have “successfully tapped into the enthusiasm for and possibilities of an independent Scotland”.“The Edinburgh event was the biggest National Assembly we’ve ever held and there was a real buzz about the venue,” the SNP depute said.

“Member led group debates – on the Growth Commission report’s findings and a whole lot more – gave us really valuable feedback.

“And this is just the start of the conversation. New online resources will allow SNP branches across the country the opportunity to have their say on the Growth Commission and wider discussions, both with the Yes family and civic Scotland, will take place in the coming months too.

“While the Westminster parties are deeply divided and on the brink of implosion over Brexit, our party and the independence movement are in great health and positive about Scotland’s future as an independent country.

“A recent poll showed a majority would vote for Scottish independence after the UK leaves the European Union. The latest Social Attitudes Survey showing that the number of people view independence as a positive for Scotland’s economy now outnumber those who believe otherwise.

“These indications are greatly encouraging as we continue to build the fresh case for an independent Scotland.”

Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “The SNP party faithful can get together for coffee and a blether as often as they wish but it doesn’t alter the fact that the people of Scotland voted decisively to remain part of the United Kingdom in 2014.

“Keith Brown’s comments only illustrate the one deep and substantive division – between the SNP and the democratic will of Scotland.”