ONE of the SNP’s most out-spoken advocates of a fast-tracked route to independence has announced plans to stand for Holyrood.

Chris McEleny said he would seek the SNP candidacy in Greenock & Inverclyde, which is currently held by fellow Nationalist Stuart McMillan.

Mr McEleny said he would stand up for Scotland’s right to choose its own future “with every fibre of my being” and wanted more “working class voices" in the Parliament.

Challenging a sitting MSP is highly unusual in the SNP, but Mr McEleny is no stranger to controversy and a frequent thorn in the side of the party leadership.

The leader of the SNP group on Inverclyde council since 2013, he has twice stood for the party’s deputy leadership without success. 

However, his push for an early second independence referendum made it a key issue in the 2018 deputy leadership contest, which was won by MSP Keith Brown. 

Since then, Mr McEleny has become a leading advocate of a ‘Plan B’ on independence, working with SNP MP Angus MacNeil to have the idea adopted as party policy.

Under their plan, a simple SNP election win, either at Holyrood or Westminster, would trigger independence negotiations without the need for Indyref2.

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The proposal is born out of frustration with slow progress on Indyref2, and Boris Johnson simply refusing to grant Holyrood the power it needs to hold it.

However Nicola Sturgeon has rejected the Plan B idea, saying it would not be recognised by the international community, and that a referendum remains the best approach. 

Despite the controversy, Mr McEleny said his selection as the SNP candidate could be a “unifying act”, pulling the wider Yes movement together ahead of the 2021 election. 

His announcement was promoted on social media by SNP MP Kenny MacAskill, who has also criticised the slow progress on independence under Nicola Sturgeon.

In an open letter to local SNP members, Mr McEleny said: “Looking forward to the key economic decisions that will impact on Scotland for many years to come, who do the people of Scotland want to make those decisions: The Scottish Government or the UK Government? 

“As we enter the nomination period for the Holyrood elections, now more than ever I believe that Scotland must be an independent country so that we can choose to build a fairer nation as opposed to having the policies of Boris Johnson imposed upon us by a UK Government we simply do not vote for. 

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“I would be honoured to be chosen as the SNP candidate for Greenock & Inverclyde and I pledge to you that I would be a strong voice for Inverclyde that will with every fibre of my being stand up for Scotland’s right to choose its own future as an independent nation, whether Boris Johnson likes that or not. “ 

Mr McMillan has been at Holyrood since 2007, serving two terms as a West of Scotland list MSP before taking Greenock & Inverclyde from Labour at the third attempt.

He won the seat with 53.7 per cent of the vote in 2016 and a majority of 8,230. 

Mr McMillan has been asked for comment.