The SNP’s Westminster leader is urging the party to postpone debate on Scotland’s independence

The leader of the Scottish National Party in Westminster has said the party should postpone a planned conference to discuss its strategy for gaining Scotland’s independence after Nicola Sturgeon’s resignation.

The SNP will hold a special congress next month to discuss its strategy for secession from the UK, over which it is divided.

But Stephen Flynn, the leader of the party in the UK Parliament, told the BBC on Wednesday: “I actually think the conference should be adjourned.”

“The party should give the new leader the opportunity to state his position, his vision of how he thinks we will get to that independent future,” he told Radio 4 Today Program.

Sturgeon, who shocked her colleagues on Wednesday by announcing her resignation as party leader and as Scotland’s First Minister, had planned to use the UK’s next general election as a “de facto” referendum on independence.

Sturgeon’s stance follows a ruling by the UK Supreme Court last year that it did not have the legal authority to hold a referendum without London’s consent.

Some of her MPs feared turning the election into a one-on-one vote could cost them their seats. In her resignation speech, Sturgeon acknowledged the disagreements and said she wanted to “liberate” the party so that it could make its own decision rather than follow its preferred position.

Flynn, who is not running to replace Sturgeon, said he supports her position on the “de facto referendum” on independence to break the deadlock after the UK government has consistently “contradicted” democracy by calling itself refused to allow a second referendum.

London has consistently argued that not enough time has passed since Scots voted 55% to 45% in 2014 to maintain the union with England of 1707.

Sturgeon has also been criticized by peers for not decisively bolstering support for independence, with polls consistently showing the country almost evenly divided on the issue.

In recent weeks, her leadership has come under scrutiny for trying to pass a law that would make it easier for people to change their gender.

Legislation, which would have reduced the age at which people can obtain a gender recognition certificate to 16, was opposed by most Scots, while a significant minority of SNP’s own members supported London’s decision to break Scottish law to veto.

Flynn declined to say whether he thought the legislation should be reconsidered, although he acknowledged the row over the possible placement of a convicted rapist in a women-only jail had raised public concerns “understandable” for women only.

The Scottish Government has yet to announce whether it will take legal action against London’s decision.

“This law was introduced to protect some of the most vulnerable people in society and give them a better life and opportunities.”
said Flynn.

“It falls to a new leader to find a way that allows us to have this positive discussion about why this legislation is necessary, while of course addressing the understandable concerns.” The SNP’s Westminster leader is urging the party to postpone debate on Scotland’s independence

Adam Bradshaw

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