THE SNP conference has backed Humza Yousaf over his strategy for independence in the face of the UK Government refusing another referendum.

The First Minister, and SNP Westminster leader, Stephen Flynn put their plan to the party conference in Aberdeen.

The policy means the SNP will not seek to use the general election as a ‘de facto referendum, where a majority of votes for the party would be taken as a mandate for independence.

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Instead, it will seek to use a majority of seats - which would mean the SNP would need 29 of the 57 seats - to “begin negotiations with the UK government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country”.

It currently has 43 MPs, so the party could lose 15 MPs and still claim a mandate for negotiations with the UK Government over Scotland being able to decide on independence.

The party leadership changed its stance from only needing to win the most Scottish seats of any party.

After a lengthy debate, on the opening day of the SNP annual conference, the delegates voted for the plan and rejected needing a majority of the vote and rejected using a majority of votes for all independence-supporting parties as proposed by MP Joanna Cherry.

Humza Yousaf called for unity, with his party moving to talk about the need for and merits of independence to win the argument and not about the process.

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Yousaf, said: “If we come together now we will make that a reality.

 “I said when I became leader the strategy would be decided by our members, by you.

“After we have decided today, let us unite. It’s our strength as a party.”

He added: “There is no shortcut that will get us to independence.

“This party doesn’t fear democracy we embrace it. The fact Westminster is denying Scotland a referendum shows they fear democracy.”

“We have hit a Westminster wall. If they are going to deny a referendum then let’s use the next general election.”

The policy now means “page one line one of the next SNP manifesto should state Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country”.

It states: “If the SNP subsequently wins a majority of the seats at the General Election in Scotland, the Scottish Government is empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country.”

The plan was passed overwhelmingly but not everyone was in agreement.

Pete Wishart, long-serving SNP MP, said that only securing a majority of the Scottish people would be sufficient to claim a mandate.

He said: “All you're doing is giving Westminster something to say no to.”

“It’s all about legitimacy, credibility and realism. The only way is when we get the majority of the people to believe in us.”