SNP members will debate two options on a de facto referendum at the party's special conference in March, with both the next Westminster and the next Holyrood elections on the table.

Following a ruling by the UK Supreme Court that the Scottish Government could not legislate for a second referendum on independence without a section 30 order, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon outlined her plan to contest the next Westminster election as a 'de facto' referendum.

That would mean the SNP contesting the election on the singular issue of independence, effectively making every vote for the party a vote to leave the Union.

It is likely that if the party were to receive over 50 per cent votes cast it would be considered a mandate for independence.

When the Supreme Court made its ruling, it was announced that the SNP would hold a 'Special Democracy Conference' to set out its plans for the de facto referendum.

On Saturday a motion to be put to members was agreed, with the preference - if no section 30 order is granted - to use the next Westminster election, to be held by late 2025, as the de facto referendum.

Members will also have the option of using the next Holyrood election for the same purpose, but there is no option to vote against the plan for a de facto referendum.

First Minister Sturgeon said: “Westminster is denying democracy because it fears the verdict of the Scottish people on independence. 

“There is a cast iron democratic mandate for a referendum, and this remains the SNP’s preferred route to establishing the will of the people of Scotland.

"However, if Westminster continues to block a referendum - and if Scottish democracy is not to be negated as a result - an alternative democratic means of allowing the people of Scotland to express their will must be found. 

"The purpose of the Special Democracy Conference is to allow the SNP to debate and decide which alternative route it wishes to offer the people of Scotland. 

"Given the significance of this decision for both the party and the country, it is important that this debate is a full, free and open one - which is what the draft resolution seeks to enable. 

"It sets out - as I did last June - the option of contesting the next Westminster election as a de facto referendum. 

"However, in the interests of a full and open debate, it also sets out the alternative option of contesting the next Scottish Parliament election on this basis. 

"I am looking forward to the discussions that the party will have in the run up to and at this important conference, and I know it will then unite behind a course of action that will enable us to make and win the case for independence. 

"While this will be a debate on the process of securing independence, it is one that will be guided by a fundamental principle - that the future of Scotland must and will be decided by the people of Scotland, not by Westminster politicians. 

"And it will also be underpinned by the strength of the substantive case for Scotland becoming an independent country. 

"People know that to tackle the cost-of-living crisis, escape Brexit, secure the investment our public services require, and build a fairer, more prosperous nation, the Scottish Parliament needs the full powers of independence. 

“The more Westminster tells us we have no right to decide our own future, the more people in Scotland will vote SNP to demand our basic democratic rights and secure independence.”