Suspended SNP MP Angus Macneil has called on Humza Yousaf to declare the next Holyrood election a ‘de-facto referendum’ on independence — even if it backfires and costs the party seats. 

Mr MacNeil, who exiled himself from the SNP over a row with the Chief Whip before being suspended from the party, said his colleagues should put their careers on the line in pursuit of a breakaway poll.  

And he specifically singled out his party’s leader, saying he needs to be “bold” even if it could “end” his political career.  

The Na h-Eileanan an Iar MP had the whip removed for a week after being involved in a clash with the party's chief whip in Westminster. 

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil - Greens are damaging SNP’s ability to govern

He subsequently announced he would sit as an independent MP until at least October, to better gauge the party’s approach to achieving Scottish independence – but has since been suspended by the SNP.  

In an exclusive interview with The Herald’s Kevin McKenna, Mr MacNeil laid out his views on how to bring about a second independence referendum.  

He said: “In my view the best way to proceed is to have a stand-alone Holyrood election that specifically calls for a referendum.” 

“I’m in despair about our utter fear to do anything. Humza Yousaf is saying it’s a majority of seats that’s required in a de facto referendum, but it’s not. A de facto referendum is won on votes not seats. 

“Humza needs to be bold and say: ‘Look, I know a majority of the electorate have indicated a preference for independence and I also know a lot of people don’t like my party or what we’ve done in government. But regardless, I’m willing to put everything we’ve got on independence. It may damage us and end our political careers, but when you vote in this it will be a de facto referendum and afterwards you’ll have the chance to vote for which party you want to lead an independent nation’.” 

READ MORE: Angus MacNeil - Greens are damaging SNP’s ability to govern

The MP added that nationalists should claim the Conservatives were undemocratic for blocking another referendum - a frequent complaint of Nicola Sturgeon’s - as the Tories had been eleced on a promise of opposing Scottish independence.  

He said: They’re not doing anything undemocratic: this is what they themselves were elected on. Instead we need to be much more creative."