THE SNP and the Scottish Greens will draw up and publish a joint government prospectus on independence which will be put to voters under plans to hold a new referendum next year, The Herald can reveal.

Lorna Slater, the Scottish Greens co-leader, revealed the development as the two parties also prepare to ramp up their own separate campaigns in the coming months.

Her intervention was made in an exclusive interview with the Herald to mark the six month anniversary of the Bute House Agreement later this month which saw the SNP and the Scottish Greens agree to work together in government to “provide effective and responsible leadership for Scotland” over the current parliament.

The co-operation deal included plans to legislate for a second independence referendum and led to the Greens joining government for the first time anywhere in the UK with Slater and her fellow Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie becoming ministers in Nicola Sturgeon's administration.

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It is the first time that the Greens have said they will be involved in the drafting of the Indyref2 prospectus - which is currently being updated by the Scottish Government.

The emergence that a joint SNP/Green government independence prospectus would be put to voters was attacked by the Scottish Conservatives and Scottish Labour.

The Tories dismissed the Greens as "extremist and anti-business", while Labour accused the two parties in the Scottish Government of "a total dereliction of duty in the middle of a growing cost of living crisis".

Scottish Labour’s Constitution spokeswoman Sarah Boyack hit out saying: “We are rebuilding from the pandemic, our NHS is in crisis, and the Scottish Government are selling off everything from our seabeds to our ferry contracts."  

Ahead of the September 2014 vote, only the SNP were in government and produced a single 650-page white paper entitled "Scotland's Future" which set out the arguments for independence which were put to voters.

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But ahead of referendum planned for 2023, the two parties will agree a new updated prospectus while also preparing their own separate party documents.

She said negotiations would take place on what areas of agreement would be included in the government blueprint in a similar vein to the talks that lead to the Bute House Agreement.

In the deal signed on August 20 last year the the SNP and Scottish Greens agreed on certain shared policies - such as having a referendum in the first half of the new parliament - but also listed areas of policy differences (where it was accepted the two could disagree which each other publicly). Areas excluded from the agreement included aviation and Nato membership (with the Greens opposed to joining).

"There will be more than one prospectus for independence. The Scottish Greens will develop a prospectus for independence but as part of the Scottish Government we will also contribute to the Scottish Government's prospectus," Ms Slater said in an interview in her role as Scottish Greens co-leader.

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"It's clear from the Bute House agreement and from our manifestos that there are many places where the Scottish Greens and the SNP agree, but many places where we disagree and that's why the Bute House agreement includes the excluded items."

"I would expect to help shape that government manifesto. It wouldn't fully encapsulate a Green vision for Scotland, so the Scottish Greens will produce our own Green vision for Scotland."

It is not clear whether there will be one large white paper - as there was ahead of the 2014 referendum - or a series of documents on different policy areas.

Ms Slater said: "I am not sure 100% sure what form it will take, whether it will be a single paper or a series of papers, exactly how that prospectus will be brought forward. But certainly the government position will be jointly created."

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Asked what she would you like to see in the Scottish Government prospectus from the Scottish Greens, she said: "In terms of the government prospectus, it would be much like what we did over the summer in negotiating the co-operation agreement.

"We are trying to bring a different type of politics from what you see in Westminster, where there's shouting across the aisles, where we can sit down and negotiate sensibly. We can identify where we share a vision and where we don't.

"So I know the government shares our vision for a net zero future, on growing renewable resources, on EU membership. Wonderful, these are things we agree on."

Currently the SNP and Scottish Greens are not in agreement on currency policy under independence.

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The Greens support moving to a new Scottish currency as quickly as possible after a Yes vote, while under the SNP's economic blueprint for independence the new state would continue to use sterling until six key tests were met before a new currency was introduced.

The Herald asked Ms Slater if there would there be a shared policy on currency in the Scottish Government Indyref2 prospectus given the differing policies on the issue at the moment.

"Obviously we are more than a year from the referendum so this is the time to have a national conversation about that. In working out the Bute House agreement, we sat down and discussed the issues," she said.

"The Scottish Green party has some work to do. We are developing our independence prospectus and we will flesh out our position on these things and I am sure other political parties are doing the same.

"So over the course of the next year, before we start the campaign in earnest, we have time to have those conversations and start to flesh out those details. So at the moment, we are just at the beginning of that process, pulling out our paper work from 2014 and having a look at it and seeing what's changed, where has the conversation moved on. We are at the start of that process just now."

The First Minister has pledged to hold a referendum by the end of next year, Covid permitting.

However, unlike ahead of the 2014 referendum when Prime Minister David Cameron agreed on a transfer of powers to Holyrood to agree a vote, Prime Minister Boris Johnson has refused to agree such a move.

His refusal - which could be the position of any successor should Johnson step down - has lead to Ms Sturgeon outlining plans to hold a vote using legislation in the Scottish Parliament. The move could be met by a legal challenge by the UK Government.

Asked if she was confident of a new vote happening in 2023, Ms Slater said: "That is the timetable we are signed up to. Legislation will be coming into parliament this year."

She added: "That is certainly the plan, that's the vision for it, that's what we are committed to. The Greens said this term of parliament. We're saying next year is a good year.

"It's an exciting time. I am really looking forward to having that conversation about what kind of Scotland we want to be and to setting out that vision."

Pressed further on the pandemic and any new variant arising, she went on: "I can't predict the future in terms of what further variants might come out way. But of course the safety of people is the most important thing, making sure people stay safe and well.

"But Covid permitting and the unexpected permitting of course we would very much hope to hold a referendum next year. The legislation will be coming this year for the referendum and the intention is to hold it in 2023."

Scottish Conservative Shadow Constitution Secretary Donald Cameron MSP said: “Not content with giving the extremist Greens a seat round the Ministerial table, the SNP are now happy to have them at the heart of plans to press ahead with another divisive independence referendum.

“The Greens have already shown their influence on SNP Ministers by getting them to harden their stance on oil and gas and ramping up their war on motorists.

“The last thing our recovery needs is the anti-jobs, anti-business Greens being heavily involved in attempts to break up the union.

“Only the Scottish Conservatives will continue to stand up against this nationalist coalition of chaos and provide a real alternative to end this obsession with independence.”

Scottish Labour’s Constitution spokeswoman Sarah Boyack said: “Now is not the time to be pouring even more government time, money and energy into hashing out the detail of the Greens’ and the SNP’s separatist plans.

“We came together to beat Covid and now they want us to take us back to fighting with each other.

“This is a total dereliction of duty in the middle of a growing cost of living crisis.

“We are rebuilding from the pandemic, our NHS is in crisis, and the Scottish Government are selling off everything from our seabeds to our ferry contracts."  

“These are the issues Lorna Slater and the Greens should be sitting down to fight for, and these are the things the SNP should be focused fixing.

“Both parties need to get their priorities straight and focus on the issues that really matter to people now.”

The SNP were approached for comment.