THE SNP has already spent more than a third of its £740,000 independence fighting fund without knowing when or if there will be a vote. 

The party said it had so far spent more than £250,000 on activity “directly related to the campaign for independence”, including more than £200,000 last year alone.

In its newly released accounts for 2021, the SNP said that by the end of last year it had spent £253,335 out of £740,822 raised by its referendum appeal since 2017.

As the party previously said it had spent £51,760 from the appeal by the end of 2020, it means the difference last year was £201,575.

However the party did not say what the money was spent on, saying that every action it took - directly or indirectly - was in support of winning independence.

The accounts, signed off by SNP treasurer Colin Beattie on June 30, failed to mention Nicola Sturgeon naming October 19 next year as the putative date for Indyref2.

Nor was there any mention of the UK Supreme Court case about holding Indyref or a possible de facto referendum the First Minister told Holyrood about on June 28.

The £200,000 spending on independence coincided with the SNP running up a £749,345 deficit last year after spending £1.47million fighting the Holyrood election. 

That compared to a £1m surplus in 2020.

Total income was £4.5m, while total expenditure was £5.26m last year.

The SNP’s reserves plunged from £1.36m to £610,765. 

The £200,000 spending was equivalent to almost a third of the £660,000 at the heart of a long-running fraud investigation by Police Scotland.

In July last year, the force said it launched a probe in consultation with prosecutors into complaints money raised by the party for Indyref2 since 2017 was spent on other things.

The SNP said it would "cooperate fully" and admitted some money had been used in the absence of another independence vote, but pledged to spend an ““equivalent” sum.

It said it had earmarked money for Indyref2, but did not formally identify it in its accounts.

In the Referendum appeal section of the new accounts, Mr Beattie wrote: “By 31 December 2021, a total of £740,822 had been raised through the independence related appeals. 

“These donations are also included in – and have been reconciled with – the total amount for donations included in Party accounts from 2017 to 2021.

“Up until 31 December 2021 a total of £253,335 of expenditure had been applied against this income. 

 “The balance remains ‘earmarked’ for independence related campaigning. 

“Of course, the SNP is the party of independence and, as such, every action we take – directly or indirectly – is in support of winning independence.

“However, we continue to take a very strict approach to ensuring that this income supports expenditure directly related to the campaign for independence.

“We will ensure that an amount equivalent to the sums raised from these appeals will go directly to our work to secure a referendum and win independence.”

It is unclear when or if there will be a second referendum.

Boris Johnson and both the Tory leadership hopefuls aiming to replace him in Downing Street next month have ruled out allowing Indyref2 to go ahead.

The First Minister’s top law officer, the Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain QC, has asked the Supreme Court for a ruling on whether Holyrood could hold a vote under its existing powers.

If the court says no, Ms Sturgeon has said she would fight the next general election on the “single question” of independence, but the UK Government could ignore that framing.

An SNP spokesperson said: “The countdown to the referendum on 19 October 2023 has well and truly started.

"Our campaigning for independence is ongoing. We must prepare for a referendum to win a referendum.

"Those preparations last year included extensive public attitude research and the production of a range of campaign materials including one million copies of an eight-page pro-independence newspaper.”