A candidate for the SNP Deputy Leadership has called for a second independence referendum to be staged in the next 18 months as the party split intensifies.
Chris McEleny, the SNP group leader on Inverclyde Council, has backed a call from Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil for a quickfire re-run of the 2014 vote on leaving the UK.
Mr McEleny is contesting the deputy leadership along with Economy Secretary Keith Brown and party worker Julie Hepburn.
The councillor told the Herald newspaper that the by Autumn, the terms of Brexit will be clear and he is not “holding his breath” for a good deal.
He added: “I believe that Scotland cannot afford to wait any longer to see if things can get better, we’ve been getting sold that message for decades.
READ MORE: MP calls for indyref2 to be staged in 18 months
“Simply put, decisions made in Scotland by the people of Scotland are better decisions for Scotland. That is why we should be independent and that is why I believe we should have a referendum on our independence within the next 18 months.”
His intervention means that the prospect of a second independence referendum is likely to dominate the deputy leadership contest which will be announced at the party conference in June.
Mr MacNeil said yesterday he backed the 66 per cent of participants who took part in Twitter survey he conducted calling for a referendum within 18 months. A further 22 per cent of the 5,000 participants wanted a vote after 18 months but before the next Holyrood elections in 2021, while 12 per cent want to delay staging it until after 2021.
The party’s longerst serving MP, Pete Wishart complained of online abuse this week after warning against a quickfire referendum and backing a more “pragmatic” approach. He said losing a second vote because Scots were not ready for independence would be a “national tragedy”.
Former SNP depute leader Jim Sillars has said support for independence should be at 60 per cent in the polls for more than six months before a second referendum is held.