THE SNP is moving away from independence and towards support for federalism, a former party leader has claimed.

Gordon Wilson said the campaign to take Scotland out of the UK had become sidelined and had "lost oomph," as he accused the party leadership of failing to develop the economic case for independence.

He claimed Nicola Sturgeon's call for a veto over Britain's possible exit from the EU was a sign the party was shifting towards support for a federal UK

The former MP, who led the party throughout the 1980s, set out his views in a new analysis published under the banner of his Options for Scotland think tank.

He welcomed the SNP's stunning election result but warned the campaign, based on the promise of influencing a minority Labour government, "caused the independence case to lie fallow".

He said next year's Scottish Parliament election would be fought on the SNP record in power and argued: "Again the merits of independence could be lost sight of in a domestic Scotch mist".

He complained that too little was being done to develop the economic case for independence, and sell it to older Scots and the business community, two of the least sympathetic groups in last year's referendum.

He added: "There is little action apparent. No SNP independence unit has been set up.

"Independence has been sidelined. The drive has lost oomph!"

Mr Wilson predicted the UK would vote to remain in the EU, denying First Minister Nicola Sturgeon an opportunity to argue for a second independence referendum.

But he was highly critical of her demand for a "double majority" - a veto over Britain leaving the UK if a majority of Scots vote to stay.

Describing the move as a "risky and unnecessary gimmick," he said: "It is a threat to Scottish independence because it creates a precedent that any vote in Scotland to obtain independence needs the consent of other member nations of the UK for it to be implemented."

He added: "It suggests that the party is moving away from Scottish independence towards British federalism. If so, I am not sure Party members would easily consent."

He said the party should be consulted on the strategy at its national conference in October.