Nicola Sturgeon must give “serious consideration” to joining forces with other pro-independence parties after the Holyrood election to demand “urgent negotiations with Boris Johnson” on Scottish independence, a former SNP cabinet secretary has said.
Former health secretary Alex Neil said while there must still be focus on tackling the coronavirus pandemic after Thursday’s Scottish Parliament election, there “is no reason why we should not also be pursuing our constitutional demands at the same time”.
Mr Neil, who is stepping down as an MSP, served in government under Ms Sturgeon and her predecessor Alex Salmond – who has returned to Scottish politics to lead the new Alba Party.
Mr Salmond says his new party can help create a “supermajority” for independence in the Scottish Parliament, although Ms Sturgeon has made clear she will not work with her former mentor.
However Mr Neil and another retiring SNP MSP, Gil Paterson, have said the party must rethink its opposition to Alba’s proposal for talks on independence to start immediately with Westminster if Holyrood has a majority of members who support Scotland leaving the UK.
Mr Paterson, a former convenor of the SNP parliamentary group at Holyrood, said: “We are not asking Nicola to endorse a motion she hasn’t yet seen but simply agree to consider supporting the principle that the new parliament should give serious consideration to Alba’s proposal to demand an immediate opening of negotiations on independence with the UK Government.”
Mr Neil said: “Whilst we must continue to deal with the immediate issues regarding the coronavirus pandemic, there is no reason why we should not also be pursuing our constitutional demands at the same time.
“To fully recover economically from the pandemic we will need the tools that only independence can give us to do that successfully.”