he SNP’s deputy leader says his party would still have a mandate for independence negotiations if it won the most seats in Scotland on fewer votes than in the previous election.
Keith Brown defended his party’s latest independence strategy, saying Labour and the Tories would have to answer if they refused the “democratic mandate” of winning the most seats at the general election.
On Sunday, the SNP’s conference endorsed the leadership’s motion on the next steps in its push for Scottish independence.
It called on the Scottish Government to begin immediate negotiations with Westminster “to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country” if the party wins a majority of seats north of the border in the next general election.
This could either be achieved via the UK Government entering into talks on independence, backing the holding of another referendum, or transferring the powers for Holyrood to stage such a vote, the party clarified.
Speaking to the BBC’s Good Morning Scotland radio programme, Mr Brown said it is the “democratic norm” that the party that won the most seats won the election.
He was asked if there would still be a mandate for a referendum or independence if the SNP won fewer seats than in the 2019 election, but still a majority of constituencies north of the border.
Mr Brown said: “If in the UK, a party of government, as has happened many times in the past, have won the election again with fewer votes – you’re saying they didn’t have a mandate. Of course, that’s not the case.
“We would have that mandate because we would have won the election and I think people understand that.
“And if we do that, then we will enter independence negotiations and set in train in other processes, which will lead to Scotland taking a different path from the rest of the UK.”
Asked what would happen if Labour or the Conservatives continue to say no, he said “they have to answer why they won’t respond to the mandates which have been granted”.
He said this would include the constitutional convention which was also endorsed by SNP members.
Mr Brown will address delegates in Aberdeen on Monday afternoon and is expected to “call out” Labour and the Tories for “decades of mismanagement” and “decisions taken without any consideration of Scotland”.
The MSP, who has been deputy leader of the SNP since 2018, is expected to say: “The next election in Scotland will be a clear choice between Westminster control and independence.
“Scotland can escape the chaos of Westminster mismanagement – from the hard-right economic destruction of a Tory budget to the lurch to the right from Labour on everything from workers’ rights to immigration.
“Now, with the party united behind the independence strategy, our job is to take the substance of the independence debate to the people – to build support and to deliver independence.”