THE SNP have pledged to spend £600,000 this financial year on preparations for indyref2.

The ring-fenced cash boost was announced at a meeting of the party’s National Executive Committee (NEC).

A further £1.5 million is to be spent on the SNP’s Holyrood election campaign, with members also agreeing to stage a rally ahead of the May ballot.

The rally, which will be held online, is scheduled for next month.

Official minutes from the NEC meeting read: “A Campaign Rally will be held online in late March, open to all members, setting out our message for the election in May, and will be the largest online event of its kind.”

The statement continues: “The 2021 budget was agreed, including £1.5m Holyrood election spend, £600k this financial year for referendum preparations, plus new Headquarters staff to support local government and the complaints processes overseen by the National Secretary.

“There was also agreement on the further interim recommendations of the Governance Review Group, which has secured input from significant a number of members, on communications, and support for activists and office bearers.”

READ MORE: SNP try to 'quash rumours' independence fighting fund has already been spent

The party also announced a new a postal voter registration drive ahead of the Holyrood election designed to encourage one million Scots to sign up ahead of the April 6 registration deadline.  

Kickstarting the 45-day registration drive, SNP depute leader Keith Brown wrote in a letter to SNP members: "Whoever forms Scotland’s next government will have the momentous task of leading our nation’s recovery from this pandemic. We can’t simply go back to the way things were, we must build a healthier, fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

"The question faced by voters is this: who should have the responsibility to build this Scotland we know is possible? A Scottish Government led by Nicola Sturgeon, democratically elected by voters right here in Scotland, or a Westminster government we didn’t vote for led by Boris Johnson.

"With so much at stake, this election really is the most important in Scotland’s history."

The National: SNP depute leader Keith Brown announced the National Assembly at the party’s virtual conference last year

The SNP are on track to win a landslide victory in the election, with the pro-independence Greens also set for a record-breaking result.

According to the SNP’s 11-point plan for independence, they will push for a second independence referendum if a pro-Yes majority is returned to Holyrood in May, regardless of whether a Section 30 order is granted by Westminster.

The document explains it would then be for the UK Government to decide if it wanted to try and block the plebiscite through the courts.

The announcement about the ring-fenced funding has angered Unionists at Holyrood. 

Douglas Ross said: “This clearly shows where the SNP’s priorities lie. As Scotland continues to fight the pandemic, they are focused on pressing ahead with plans for a reckless referendum potentially as early as this year.

“Setting aside this vast sum of money to help preparations for another referendum shows their commitment to return Scotland to the politics of division all over again.

“We should be focused on continuing the success of the vaccine programme and fighting to protect people’s jobs and livelihoods. Instead Nicola Sturgeon and other senior SNP figures repeatedly refuse to rule out holding an illegal referendum in 2021.”

Interim Scottish Labour leader Jackie Baillie added: “The people of Scotland are clear that they want their Government to prioritise the recovery from Covid-19 and the economic crisis it has caused, rather than another independence referendum.

"It is astounding, but not surprising, that with our Test and Protect system still not fit for purpose, with workers and businesses fearing for their future and struggling to access support, and with a massive increase in waiting times for NHS treatment, that the SNP is focusing on constitutional upheaval - and not the recovery Scotland so badly needs.”