JOANNA Cherry and Pete Wishart were last night among senior figures in the SNP who have criticised a decision by their party to reject a ‘Plan B’ motion to conference.

The National yesterday revealed a proposed resolution by fellow MP Angus MacNeil and councillor Chris McEleny to get a debate and vote on the issue at next month’s event were turned down by the party’s conference committee on Thursday night.

Cherry, who has called for the SNP to consider an alternative route to achieve independence should Boris Johnson continue to refuse to agree to a new referendum, tweeted her reaction.

The Edinburgh South West MP, who is the SNP’s justice and home affairs spokeswoman at Westminster, has previously been critical of the party’s ruling National Executive Committee over its decision to make it harder for MPs to stand for Holyrood. Last month she called for the sacking of NEC members following the new ruling. On the Plan B decision, she wrote: “Dismayed by this decision. I reiterate my view that ⁦the SNP⁩ should be wargaming alternative strategies to deliver a second vote on independence that will be internationally recognised. The newly elected NEC must ensure this.”

Wishart, who has been critical of Plan B and warning it could lead to a Catalonia-style situation with people voting for independence but the vote not being recognised, was also disappointed.

He tweeted: “This is a mistake. We need this damaging debate concluded so we can unite around an agreed way forward.”

Toni Giugliano, who is hoping to stand as the SNP’s Holyrood candidate in Dumbarton in May, said: “It’s clear that members want the opportunity to make their views known on strategic matters as well as policy.

“We should learn from political parties on the continent where National Assemblies allow delegates to make interventions of their choosing, be it on policy or strategy.

“The frustrations that currently exist within the membership will only get worse unless members are given an opportunity to be heard on such matters.”

The decision will mean there will be no vote on what a back-up strategy should be if Johnson continues to reject a request for powers to be transferred to Holyrood.

The two chief Plan B proponents, MacNeil and McEleny, were disappointed.

They had previously believed they had been given a positive signal when drafting their resolution, which backed requesting a Section 30 order as the preferred route to get a transfer of powers.

It then went on to argue that if this was rejected, then Scottish ministers should seek a legal challenge to establish if Holyrood could stage a referendum without the UK Government’s agreement. Should this second step prove unsuccessful, their proposed motion argued the May 2021 elections should be a de facto referendum on independence.

MacNeil and McEleny claimed the decision to block their resolution would not be popular among activists who have seen support for independence grow to a record 58%, but feel their goal has been frustrated and a No-Deal Brexit looms.

“Scotland should now be in a situation to free itself from this kamikaze cliff jump by the Tories, or more correctly the Scottish Government should be,” said MacNeil. “However, the cold hard fact, which some of us may not want to admit to, is that we have no escape ... It has been almost four-and-a-half years since the Brexit vote and face facts, the cupboard is bare.”

McEleny stated: “Scotland stands at the cliff edge of a No-Deal Brexit, the economic decisions that will define Scotland for a generation are about to be made by a Westminster Government we didn’t vote for. Now is not the time for a talking shop, now is the time for action.

Plan B critics say the SNP’s strategy of holding out for a Section 30 order is working as support climbs for independence. They point to the UK Government being “in panic mode” with ideas, such as seeking help from the EU to say it would block Scotland’s future membership, looking desperate. They also contend if Johnson is not going to grant a Section 30 order he is unlikely to enter independence negotiations.

An SNP spokesman said: “Effective leadership during the global pandemic is proving a real boost to support for an independent Scotland. Next month’s SNP conference will focus on what’s important to the people of Scotland, and independence will very much be at the heart of debate.”