An MP who was suspended by the SNP last week has said he will not rejoin the party until it is clearer about how it intends to win Scottish independence, describing its approach as “utterly clueless”.
Angus MacNeil, who has been an outspoken critic of the leadership of both Nicola Sturgeon and Humza Yousaf, was suspended by Westminster leader Stephen Flynn after a row with the party’s Chief Whip.
His week-long sanction was supposed to come to an end on Wednesday, but he has instead released a statement saying he will not be rejoining the SNP, at least for now.
“I will only seek the SNP whip again if it is clear that the SNP are pursuing independence. At the moment, the SNP has become a brand name missing the key ingredient. The urgency for independence is absent,” the Na h-Eileanan an Iar (Western Isles) MP said.
He continued: “The Scottish Government went to the Supreme Court a year ago utterly clueless about how to pursue independence, left the Supreme Court utterly clueless about how to pursue independence.
“The SNP still have no clear understanding that it has to use elections to negotiate Scottish independence from Westminster by getting the backing of the majority of the electorate.”
He accused his party’s leadership of “kicking the can down the road” for the past six years and said the SNP’s autumn conference in October would be a key moment for setting a new independence strategy. Mr MacNeil added that he would continue to sit as an independent MP “until the SNP gets serious about independence” and therefore may not rejoin the party before the next general election.
“I will certainly be standing at the next election in Na h-Eileanan an Iar on an independence platform and I hope after clarity on independence after the October conference that I will be standing for the SNP,” his statement concluded.
The SNP was approached for comment.
Mr Yousaf told a special SNP convention on independence in Dundee last month that if the party won a majority of seats north of the border at the next general election he would press the UK Government for powers to hold indyref2.
However, both Labour and the Conservatives are unlikely to entertain such a prospect, with some independence supporters believing that the strategy will ultimately prove fruitless.
Responding to Mr MacNeil’s decision, Alba Party MP Neale Hanvey said there was “total confusion” over the SNP’s independence strategy which was causing it “fundamental problems”.
“To restore morale the SNP must rededicate itself to its historic mission of independence,” he added. “Humza Yousaf needs to address this fundamental issue right now and turn the tide before it is too late.”