The nationalist party’s annual conference is being held from November 26-29, albeit virtually due to COVID-19. Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is set to make her 15th conference speech as SNP leader. She is expected to say that more legislation will be brought in to hold a referendum on Scottish independence. Following the SNP’s victory at the Parliament Election in May, the party re-emphasised its push for independence.
Ms Sturgeon said she wants to hold a new public vote – Indyref2 – on the issue by the end of 2023 if the pandemic allows.
One of the party’s first priorities in an independent Scotland would be removing the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.
The UK’s fleet of nuclear-armed submarines is currently based on the River Clyde at Faslane and Coulport.
Despite the SNP’s bold rhetoric on Trident, the party has been warned that it risks a “deep internal split” over delivering its pledge to scrap the nuclear deterrent.
An unearthed academic report by political expert Dr Nick Ritchie claims that the SNP’s stance risks “undermining” its “credibility”.
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The senior lecturer in international security wrote a paper about the SNP and its identity as an anti-nuclear party for ‘The Nonproliferation Review’ in 2017.
He said: “However its origins might be interpreted, the antinuclear stance has become constitutive of the party’s identity and its very conception of an independent Scotland.
“The SNP is now rhetorically entrapped by its arguments, obliged to abide by them, and has become, in part, constituted by them.
“Reneging on a central, if not totemic, campaign promise of disarmament would carry considerable political risk, undermine the party’s credibility, and invite a deep internal split.”
Earlier this year it was reported that the UK Government had drawn up contingency plans to move Trident to the US or France in the event of independence.
He added: “Nuclear weapons are interwoven with UK national identity conceptions, and would be, moreover, difficult to sustain outside of the current basing arrangement.”
Westminster has so far rejected the notion of holding Indyref2.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said it would be “irresponsible and reckless” to have a new vote amid the pandemic.
The last independence referendum in 2014 saw Scots reject breaking away from the UK.
Dr Ritchie said that the SNP has used its anti-Trident stance “to differentiate itself from Westminster and bolster the case for its own attainment of power”.
He said the party had “strategically developed” the narrative to “differentiate the SNP in the eyes of the electorate”.