Alex Salmond has said negotiations for independence should start on the first day of the new parliamentary term if there is a supermajority for independence.
The former first minister has previously said his Alba Party will not necessarily advocate for a referendum, but wants to see negotiations between the Scottish and UK governments to determine what would be needed for Scotland to separate.
In an interview with Bauer Media, Mr Salmond said he hoped the new Scottish Parliament would instruct those negotiations to begin on the first day it returned following the election.
Ahead of the policy launch of the party’s campaign on Tuesday, he said: “We think on day one of the new Scottish Parliament elected on an independence platform, the Government should go to the parliament for an instruction and that instruction should be that they should begin negotiations with the Westminster Government and they should do it as a parliament with a majority support for independence.
“All this of course depends on people voting for that supermajority which we are arguing for, to vote Alba on the list, that’s what’s critical, but if people do – and I think they will – then they move towards independence and negotiations for independence should start on day one of the parliament.”
Current SNP policy is to hold a referendum, with or without consent from the UK Government, if an independence majority is elected on May 6. However, the party has said any referendum, which could be challenged in the courts by Westminster, would only take place after the pandemic is over.
Mr Salmond added: “I’ve got no idea why people think it’s a great idea to set some time in the future, as if that’s going to change the calculation with Westminster.
“What’ll change Westminster’s mind about engaging in negotiations is the strength of the vote in Scotland and the knowledge that they’re not taking on a single political party in the SNP but an entire parliament representing an entire country.”
Mr Salmond went on to say that those negotiations should “see what the Westminster response is”, adding that the more independence supporting MSPs elected, “the weaker the resistance at Westminster will be to the independence cause”.
When asked if the UK Government would entertain such negotiations if a majority of independence-supporting MSPs was elected, a spokesman said: “Now more than ever, people in Scotland want to see the UK Government and the devolved administrations working together to protect lives and livelihoods.
“The United Kingdom is the most successful political and economic union the world has ever seen, and this pandemic and our collective response, from the furlough scheme to vaccine procurement and the backing of our military personnel, has shown that we are at our strongest when we work together towards a common goal.
“The push for a divisive referendum is simply irresponsible. It is a distraction, when we need to focus on continuing to tackle the pandemic and rebuilding our economy.”