HUMZA Yousaf will come under pressure at his first SNP conference as party leader to alter to his independence strategy after nine MPs have called for substantial changes. 

The First Minister and the party's Westminster leader Stephen Flynn jointly put forward a motion to be debated at the event in Aberdeen later this month, which makes clear that winning most seats north of the border in the next general election would see the Scottish Government “empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country”.

But now several amendments to the joint motion have been submitted by MPs, arguing for a series of key changes and additions to be made to the leaders' proposal including demanding greater responsibilities for Holyrood, including the power to hold an independence referendum, who should conduct talks with the UK Government and what to do if Westminster refuses to negotiate.

The Herald: Stephen Flynn, the leader of the SNP group at Westminster.  Photo Getty.

They each appear on the final agenda for the SNP's conference which now looks set to be dominated by a debate on independence strategy. 

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One key amendment has been put forward by MPs Tommy Sheppard, Alyn Smith, Stewart McDonald, Anne McLaughlin, Richard Thomson, Philippa Whitford and Dave Doogan, and is supported by several local party branches.

It argues that the SNP must include in its general election manifesto an explicit commitment to demand the transfer legal powers to Holyrood to "determine how Scotland is governed". The move would entail the permanent transfer of powers to hold an independence referendum.

"Conference further agrees that the SNP manifesto for the next Westminster election will demand the permanent transfer of legal power to the Scottish Parliament to determine how Scotland is governed, including the transfer of power to enable it to legislate for a referendum," it says.

The motion also calls for the SNP manifesto to demand a raft of new powers for the Scottish Parliament "to properly tackle the twin crises of the cost of living and climate".

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They include devolution of the following: employment rights and the living/minimum wage; windfall taxation for companies operating in Scotland; regulation, pricing and production of energy sources; employment visas for overseas workers; new borrowing powers to invest in a just transition.

The MPs go on to argue that if a new UK Government "continue to refuse the demands of the Scottish people to decide their own future, consideration should be given to fighting the next Scottish Parliament election in 2026 as a de facto referendum on independence".

Their proposal for that strategy would be if a pro-independence majority in Holyrood "will be considered a mandate to negotiate independence".

Among the other amendments to the leaders' resolution are separate proposals put forward by MPs Pete Wishart and Joanna Cherry.

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Long-serving SNP MP Pete Wishart has suggested Mr Yousaf's and Mr Flynn's motion should be amended to allow for such independence talks to take place with the UK Government only if the SNP wins a majority of votes in the general election and not the most seats as the joint leadership motion argues.

Ms Cherry has submitted two amendments.

The Herald: SNP MP Joanna Cherry KC.  Photo PA.

The first argues that rather than publishing a Withdrawal Agreement from Westminster, setting up a consultation on the constitution of an independent Scotland, and start work on rejoining the EU (as Mr Yousaf and Mr Flynn propose in their resolution if the SNP win the general election ), independence talks should be progressed by a new Constitutional Convention involving "MPs elected to Westminster, MSPs and representatives of civic Scotland."

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Her second amendment argues for replacing the SNP winning "the most seats" in the leaders' motion with "a majority of the" seats at the general election in Scotland.

On the Rutherglen and Hamilton West by election campaign trail today Mr Yousaf was asked about the amendments which propose changing the threshold to mandate independence negotiations.

He said: "I'm open to debate. I think there's some good amendments. There'll be some that I'll be willing to absolutely accept. And there's some that as I say, we will have a robust debate about in relation to our independence strategy. 

"The process I think is of less importance to people. What really matters to people is what does independence mean to them? And independence is a real alternative to a Westminster that has failed people. And it doesn't matter whether that Westminster is the colour blue or the colour red it is failing people in Rutherglen and Hamilton West and right across Scotland."

Scottish Conservative shadow cabinet secretary for the constitution, external affairs and culture Donald Cameron MSP said: “Even on the one issue the nationalists are supposed to agree on, they are fighting among themselves.

“SNP representatives are simply not interested in focusing on Scotland’s real priorities such as the cost-of-living crisis and reducing NHS waiting times.

"Not content with trying to turn the next General Election into a proxy referendum, other senior SNP figures are aiming to turn the next Holyrood election into one as well, if they don't get their way.

"The SNP should drop their independence obsession and focus on Scotland’s real priorities.”