Ash Regan has insisted that a general election is the “gold standard” democratic event to bring about Scottish independence as she defended her plans to declare separation if Yes parties win a de facto poll.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP, who is one of three candidates vying to become first minister, has suggested that if Yes parties gain more than 50 per cent of the votes as the next UK general election, the Scottish Government should begin negotiations with Westminster about Scotland leaving the Union.

Ms Regan has put forward the strategy despite both the Conservatives and Labour insisting it will not accept such a request.

The former minister, who quit Nicola Sturgeon’s government over the gender recognition reforms, said her strategy acknowledges that the UK Government will not grant permission for a re-run of the 2014 referendum.

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Speaking on the BBC Sunday Show, Ms Regan said that a de facto referendum “is the same as a referendum” in terms of “that it’s the ballot box”.

She said: “That’s a perfectly normal way to test the will of what the public is.

“My opponents in this contest are setting out a system where they are going to have an election that’s based on independence and they’re going to use that as what they’re calling a ‘moral mandate’ to go back to Westminster and to ask them again for another referendum.

“We know that’s not going to happen.”

Ms Regan added: “The London government’s been very clear that it doesn’t think it’s going to agree to have a referendum anytime soon. So I don’t think that’s the way to go about this.

“What Westminster’s doing at the moment is it’s trying to stop Scotland expressing its democratic will. I think that’s not tenable. I don’t think that’s credible."

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The former community safety minister’s plan would mean a majority vote for independence-supporting parties in any future UK or general election would be grounds for the beginning of negotiations to begin on Scotland leaving the UK.

Ms Regan said her plan would be “clearly set out” ahead of voters going to the polls.

“People in Scotland would know what they were voting for was to get the government in Edinburgh and the government in Westminster together to negotiate Scotland’s exit,” she said.

“Scotland would be very clear on what they were voting for, the UK would be very clear on what Scotland was voting for and the international community would be very clear about what Scotland is voting for.

“So I don’t think there’s any question of the UK Government not recognising Scotland’s democratic choice.”

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Ms Sturgeon has always insisted that a repeat of the first referendum on independence is the “gold standard” by which separation But Ms Regan has taken the opposite view.

Ms Regan said: “What I’m suggesting is that the gold standard here, in fact, is not a referendum. The gold standard here is the ballot box.

“I’m proposing that we give the power over when Scotland should become an independent country – that it’s not anything to do really with what Westminster think, it’s not even to do with what I think, this is a question for the people of Scotland.”

Earlier this week, Ms Regan was ridiculed for proposing an ‘independence readiness thermometer', which she suggested could be a physical thing that shows how prepared Scotland is for independence.

She has stressed that the idea would give the public “confidence that Scotland is ready to take control of its own affairs”.

Ms Regan added: “The idea behind this is we build confidence in the public by explaining to them what we’re doing to get Scotland ready.

“This is actually infrastructure – this would be things like planning for the currency and getting all that stuff arranged.

“What we want to do is we want to have some sort of representation or indication, an index is probably a better way of explaining it.

“The public and the media and everyone that’s interested can see the progress that we are making in setting up that infrastructure.”