In a last-ditch attempt to woo party members before they start casting their ballots, Humza Yousaf said he would consider a snap Holyrood election to try to demonstrate public support for independence.
He said nothing should be “off the table” and also cited Nicola Sturgeon’s plan to use next year’s Westminster election as a “de facto” referendum.
Under both blueprints, the nationalists would attempt to open independence talks with the UK Government if they received a majority of votes.
But Ben Macpherson, the SNP’s social security minister, urged his party “go down a gear” in its separation campaign and warned “anyone suggesting there are shortcuts is not being upfront about the practical realities”.
He said it would take “potentially decades” to transfer from the UK all the necessary powers and services a separate Scotland would oversee and warned against “wishful thinking”.
Highlighting lengthy delays in the transfer of devolved welfare powers from the UK Department for Work and Pensions, he said Scotland lacked the infrastructure to “quickly transition” to independence “in the short-to-medium term”.
Read more: Scottish leader frontrunner Humza Yousaf vows to break up Britain by ‘any means necessary’