AN SNP MP has warned his party the "world is watching" as it gears up for a debate on a de facto referendum and the route to independence.

Stewart McDonald's intervention comes as the SNP's ruling body published the text of a resolution to go before activists at a special conference in March.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said in June her party would use the next general election as a de facto referendum on independence if Westminster did not agree to a new vote or the Supreme Court ruled Holyrood did not have the powers to hold one.

She restated her position in November following the Supreme Court's judgement that such a vote would need the agreement of the UK Government.

However, following her interventions there has been considerable dissent in the SNP about using a general election as an de facto independence referendum with some in the party preferring the next Holyrood election to be used in such a way.

READ MORE: Expert warns SNP of consequence over GE de facto vote climbdown on FM

Other figures such as former deputy leader Jim Sillars and 2014 Yes strategist Stephen Noon say the idea of a de facto referendum should be totally dropped and instead support should be focused on building support for independence to around 60 per cent and then seek an agreed referendum with whoever is Prime Minister.

The resolution published by the SNP's National Executive Committee (NEC) yesterday also set out an alternative option of contesting the next Scottish Parliament election in 2026 on that basis.

It also gave an option of using the next Westminster election to seek a new mandate for an agreed vote through a Section 30 order which the party has campaigned for at UK and Holyrood elections since the Brexit vote in 2016.

Writing on Twitter today, Mr McDonald, the MP for Glasgow South and the party's former defence spokesman at Westminster, said: "So now we have the publication of the NEC motion and, although I still need to develop my thinking on some of it and intend to write in more detail later, I have some thoughts about what should underpin our debate between now and conference.

READ MORE: Sillars calls for Sturgeon to ditch SNP's de facto referendum plan

"This is necessarily difficult. We’re debating Scotland’s future and the decision we take in March is hugely consequential. We owe this the energy it takes to think, draft and re-draft ideas. The country deserves our most critical approach. Our party will be more resilient for it.

"There are six things I think should underpin our debate between now and the special conference. 

"All other ideas welcome, but here we go… Dispassionate Realistic Flexible Generous Conscious Internationalist."

He went into detail on each and on the last one added: "Internationalist: The world is watching. Every foreign embassy in the UK will have dedicated staff documenting how this debate plays out, sending DipTels to their foreign ministries at home. We should ask ourselves what we want them to read in Paris, Berlin, Washington…"

He added: "The rules-based international order - under unprecedented strain and pressure right now - is something we want Scotland to join, and we have to show that we’re ready. To demonstrate that we need to think like a state and act like a state now."