NICOLA Sturgeon has comfortably seen off a grassroots revolt against her safety-first approach to a second independence referendum.

After she and Westminster leader Ian Blackford urged them to do so, delegates at the SNP conference overwhelmingly refused to debate a “Plan B” on independence.

There were boos and jeers from leadership loyalists when the idea was advocated by Inverclyde councillor and National Executive member Chris McEleny.

With the UK government refusing to grant Holyrood the power to hold Indyref2, Mr McEleny and SNP MP Angus Brendan MacNeil had proposed an alternative route.

Their Plan B would see an SNP win in a general or Holyrood election taken to be a mandate to start immediate negotiations for independence.

The plan flies in the face of Ms Sturgeon’s insistence that only a legal referendum based on the “gold standard” of 2014 would be regarded as internationally credible.

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After twice failing to get the Plan B idea included in the conference agenda, Mr McEleny needed a two-thirds vote by delegates to have it discussed as “additional business”.

He said: “I think that as a democratic political party it’s absolutely legitimate that we, the grassroots members of this party, have at least the opportunity to debate a Plan B at our party conference.

“Plan A is the plan that we want to have. We have a triple-lock mandate for an independence referendum. But we have a usurper Prime Minister in Boris Johnson who refuses to accept the democratic mandate of Scotland.

“That’s why I support a Plan B and I think we should at the very least have a debate on.

"You may not agree judging by some of your boos in the front row - which I don’t think is within the proud traditions of this party

"But we are a democratic political party and vibrant political debate is what has made this party what it’s been for 85 years."

However activists at The Event Complex Aberdeen overwhelmingly rejected having a debate after Ms Sturgeon made her opposition crystal clear. 

In a series of Sunday newspaper articles, the SNP leader said those promoting a Plan B were falling into a Unionist trap by pushing an option that would not deliver independence.

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She said: “If we were to try to hold a referendum that wasn’t recognised as legal and legitimate - or to claim a mandate for independence without having demonstrated majority support for it - it would not carry the legal, political and diplomatic weight that is needed.”

In his opening address to conference in Aberdeen, Mr Blackford echoed her warning.

He told activists: “When you hear talk of a so-called Plan B, I ask you to consider this.

“The time to talk of a Plan B is not when Plan A has momentum.

“Plan Bs are by definition second best. That’s why our opponents would love us to shift onto that ground - it concedes their right to block the best route to independence. 

“When it comes to choosing Scotland’s future, we should demand and win the gold standard for democracy and for our country.”

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A new poll for the pro-independence Wings over Scotland website has found four out of five Yes supporters want some form of Plan B.

The most popular alternative, with 45% support, was legislating for a referendum without UK consent and then challenging the UK Government to challenge it in court.

More than a third, 36%, backed the MacNeil-McEleny plan.

After his call for a debate was rejected, Mr McEleny said: "I fully accept the decision of conference delegates, who were swayed with the high profile level of opposition.

"Time will tell whether or not we do need a Plan B, but the day an SNP representative decides not to progress an argument they believe in, just because they’re scared it might not be popular, is the day we are worse of as a party.

"So I’m not down-beaten by the outcome and thank all the grassroots independence supporters for their kind words. “