A RESOLUTION on the Scottish Government’s Draft Referendum Bill has been backed by delegates at the SNP’s conference.

Members overwhelmingly voted to support the motion which welcomed the draft bill published before the Scottish Parliamentary election in May and the commitment to hold a referendum once the covid crisis has passed.

As part of the motion, delegates noted that the SNP were given an unequivocal mandate from the people of Scotland to hold a second referendum and that there should be a detailed and serious national debate on independence.

The resolution was passed by 535 votes for yes, to 10 for no, on Sunday, the third day of the conference.

READ MORE: SNP conference: Nicola Sturgeon 'confident' people will vote for independence

Proposing the resolution Chris Hanlon, SNP Policy Development Convener, said that it came about after he had a “telling off” from National columnist Lesley Riddoch at a Yes meeting.

Hanlon said: “Many of you know Lesley and you know she is one to call a spade a spade, and she was concerned that that there might be some substance to speculation that seems to be endemic on social media that our party would use the excuse of covid as cover to kick a referendum into the long grass.

“Well, over my dead body was pretty much my response to that, or words to that effect.

“So here we are. Thanks to the rigorous and relentless work of our party president Michael Russell, over the past two years this party has put in place legislation governing the conduct of all future referendum’s in Scotland and the franchise for those referendums.

“How they will be conducted and who gets to vote in them is no longer a matter of debate, it is a matter of law.”

The National:

Hanlon (pictured) added that the electorate had “clearly and unambiguously” issued instructions to elected representatives to hold a referendum by the end of this parliamentary term.

He added that the resolution wasn’t about whether to hold a referendum, but about “setting a date”, but noted it should be at a time when the average voter in Scotland would feel comfortable having one, as not everyone is ready to return to “normal”.

He said: “This resolution expects our party’s leadership to consult the relevant subject matter experts, to define a set of data driven criteria, that once they are met the people of Scotland can be confident that it is safe to hold a referendum, like we did in 2014, engages the whole population in scrutinising the proposal with the same energy, vigor and passion we saw seven years ago.

“That’s not kicking the can down the road, that’s sticking the ball in the penalty spot and waiting for the whistle to blow, and blow it will, all too soon.”

READ MORE: Climate crisis takes centre stage on day two of SNP conference

Hanlon added: “If it turns out the virus has changed things so much we can’t do that in the same way we did last time, then we will adapt and do it a different way. We’ve got five years to get the job done under plan A, any plan B can wait until plan A is off the table.”

The resolution reads: “Conference welcomes the draft Referendum Bill published before the recent Scottish Parliamentary elections and the commitment in our manifesto to passing that Bill and holding a referendum as soon as it is safe to hold a proper, detailed, serious national debate on independence.

The resolution reads: “Conference notes that the Scottish Parliament election results in May 2021 demonstrate clear, majority support for a referendum on independence.

“Conference believes that people in Scotland should not have their health, wellbeing and future economic potential compromised by holding a referendum on independence before it is safe to do so, and that this decision should be determined by data driven criteria about the clear end to the public health crisis, which would allow a full, normal, and energetic referendum campaign.

The National:

Angus Robertson said he is "delighted" SNP delegates backed the resolution

“Conference expects that the Scottish Government will bring forward the draft Bill at the earliest such moment and looks forward to placing the decision about our National future in the hands of those who live and vote here.”

Angus Robertson MSP, Cabinet Secretary for the Constitution and External Affairs, said: “There is a cast-iron democratic mandate for an independence referendum, with the SNP receiving the highest share of the vote and the strongest electoral endorsement in the history of devolution in May’s election.

“I am delighted that conference has now backed this motion to pass the Draft Referendum Bill and ensure that Scotland’s future will be put into Scotland’s hands with a referendum for recovery.

READ MORE: SNP conference live: All the news and updates from Sunday

“We are already seeing plans for Tory cuts as they slash Universal Credit and plans to hike up National Insurance, taking from those that need it most.

"Scotland cannot afford another decade of Tory austerity – we have already seen the devastating impact cuts can have on the most vulnerable in society as the Tories build their vision of recovery on the backs of the poorest in society.

“That is on top of Brexit and the massive damage it is causing being foisted on us by Boris Johnson. Independence will give us the chance to re-join a market around seven times larger than the UK, with all the huge opportunities it will bring.

“We cannot trust the Tories to protect the future of Scotland. That is why it is so important Scotland has the choice to forge a different, better path with independence.”