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Stephen Flynn sparks questions over SNP's independence strategy at General Election

SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn appeared to give differing answers on party independence strategy to Sky's Sophy Ridge <i>(Image: Sky)</i>
SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn appeared to give differing answers on party independence strategy to Sky's Sophy Ridge (Image: Sky)

STEPHEN Flynn has sparked questions over SNP policy after he appeared to contradict a motion he had signed on the party’s independence strategy.

The SNP Westminster leader is a co-signatory to a motion – to be put before the party conference in October – which says the SNP would be “empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country” if it won the “most seats” at a General Election.

This is understood to mean more seats than any other party, with 57 up for grabs north of the Border under newly drawn boundaries.

But, appearing on Sky on Thursday evening, Flynn said more than once that the SNP would need to win a “majority” of seats – 29 or more.

READ MORE: 'High-level talks' underway to bring back Scotland to Europe ferry route

Host Sophy Ridge asked: “If the majority of people in Scotland vote for parties that don't support independence, how is that a mandate for independence? Sorry, am I missing something here?”

Flynn replied: “No, no, no. What we're saying, quite clearly, is that in a Westminster context it’s done by proportionality of seats, so we’re saying if we win a majority of seats, which I'm very confident that we will in the General Election next year, then that'll be a mandate for us to give democratic effect to independence.”

Ridge questioned if Flynn meant a majority, asking: “You’re saying the most seats, not a majority, isn’t it? That’s a really important distinction.”

Flynn replied: “Of course. Now if the UK Government wants to come to us and say, ‘well, that's fine, you can have your independence’, I'd love that.

“What I would expect to happen is for them to come to the table to have that grown up democratic discussion about how we empower the people of Scotland to determine their own future."

Flynn repeated his “majority” claim, even in response to a question asking about if he supported the idea of getting the most seats.

Ridge said: “If the SNP wins the most seats, so not a majority, the most seats, do you support that?”

And Flynn replied: “Absolutely. We’re operating on a first-past-the-post system. At a General Election if the Labour Party of the Conservative Party win the most seats then they have a mandate to implement their manifesto.

“Our manifesto’s going to be very clear. It’s going to say, on page one line one, a vote for the SNP is a vote for independence. If we win a majority of seats then we’ll seek to give democratic effect to that.”

The National: Humza Yousaf
The National: Humza Yousaf

First Minister Humza Yousaf (above) has made clear that his aim is for the “most” seats, not a majority.

He said last week: “The way we'll test it is by the rules of a General Election, he who wins the most seats wins that General Election, that has been the case since records began.”

The strategy of aiming for seats and not total votes has been criticised however, with SNP MP Pete Wishart looking to amend the leadership’s motion accordingly.

Wishart has said that aiming instead for a “majority of the vote in conjunction with other independence parties” – in a method akin to a de facto referendum – would “allow us to credibly claim that we have democratically secured an endorsement for independence from the Scottish people”.

The motion and amendments will be debated at the SNP conference in Aberdeen from October 15-17.