Outgoing SNP MSP Alex Neil has urged his party to work with Alex Salmond’s Alba Party to achieve a “supermajority” of MSPs in Holyrood in support of independence.
Neil, who served as a minister under Salmond, said in a statement on Friday that a supermajority is needed to “force Boris Johnson’s hand” on an independence vote.
The plea comes after the SNP unveiled its manifesto on Thursday, in which the party said a simple majority of independence supporting MSPs should be enough for another referendum to be held.
However, such a majority has existed in Holyrood since at least 2011, with the Greens helping the SNP over the line in the last parliamentary term.
Neil said: “Since 2016 the SNP and Scottish Green Party have, between them, had a pro-independence overall majority of nine in the Scottish parliament.
“Despite that there has been zero progress during the past five years in bringing about a second independence referendum. We cannot allow that situation to continue for another five years.
“The experience of the last five years teaches us that a supermajority of pro-independence MSPs will be needed to force Boris Johnson’s hand on the constitutional question.
“Unfortunately, under the current system for electing the Scottish parliament there is no realistic possibility of any one party winning such a supermajority by itself.
“To achieve a supermajority requires all the pro-independence parties working in partnership together.”
Neil has not said he will leave the SNP and join Alba, in the same way as other high profile members such as MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, but he has called for the two parties to put “self interests” and “personalities” aside.
First minister Nicola Sturgeon has repeatedly said she will not work with Salmond and his party, most recently in an ITV News interview on Thursday, though the former first minister has left the door open for such a link-up.
Neil added: “The SNP is the leading driver for constitutional change in Scotland, but to achieve our primary objective we must be big enough to work with others who are on our side.
“In this election, it is clear in nearly every region of Scotland the SNP’s huge sway over such a large number of constituency seats means that it is impossible for it to win many list seats under the current system for electing regional MSPs.
“In such circumstances it makes sense to have an agreement between the pro-independence parties to vote tactically to maximise the pro-independence vote.
“Electing a supermajority of pro-independence MSPs must surely be preferable to allowing anti-independence MSPs to get in by default because the pro-independence parties haven’t supported each other.
“We must all put our country, Scotland, first.”
A spokeswoman for the SNP said: “It’s clear that only an SNP government can deliver an independence referendum and give people in Scotland a choice on the country’s future, once the crisis of Covid has passed.
“The only safe way to ensure that Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected as First Minister and that Scotland’s future lies in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s – is to give both votes to the SNP on May 6.”