VOTES for Alex Salmond’s Alba party will be counted with those for the SNP and Scottish Greens in a ‘de facto referendum’ on independence, Angus Robertson has said. 

The SNP constitution secretary told MSPs that votes for all independence parties would be regarded as being cast for the Yes side in such a scenario.

It followed Nicola Sturgeon doubling down on her plan to fight the next general election as a de facto referendum following her failure to secure Indyref2 at the Supreme Court.

Five justices unanimously ruled Holyrood cannot hold an independence referendum without Westminster’s consent, dashing Ms Sturgeon’s plan for Indyref2 in October next year.

Ms Sturgeon has said she would need to get 50 per cent of the votes cast in the election to have a mandate to seek independence from the UK Government.

However she said the details were yet to be thrashed out by a special SNP conference in the spring, and she could only speak for her own party, not the Greens or others.

She was also dismissive of her predecessor Mr Salmond’s call for a “co-ordinated campaign of Civic and Parliamentary action”.

She said: “By definition, civic ccampaigns shouldn't take good instructions from politicians.

“But I think there is a real need for a campaign now to promote Scottish democracy.”

At Holyrood later, Green MSP Ross Greer asked Mr Robertson if he agreed “that every vote cast for pro-independence candidates at the 2024 general election will count towards the mandate for Scotland’s independence?”

The Constitution Secretary replied: “Indeed, they will. As democrats, it behoves all of us to embrace every democratic opportunity to secure democratic change. 

“However, in a democracy it also behoves other political parties that have different views to uphold the basic tenets of democracy.” 

Mr Greer added: “The onus is now on the UK Government to explain how, if this is a voluntary union, a part of that union can decide whether to stay or to go.”