Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson stepped up her calls for the First Minister to dump her second referendum proposal at the first First Minister’s Questions since the General Election.
As the two leaders clashed, the SNP came under further fire with its opponents claiming its referendum plans were “in chaos” after the party’s new Westminster leader Ian Blackford suggested plans for a second vote could be shelved in the event of a soft Brexit.
Ms Davidson pointed out the SNP had lost half a million votes and 21 MPs last week after putting her indyref2 plans “at the heart” of her Nationalists’ campaign.
But Ms Sturgeon said the SNP won the election in Scotland and had taken more seats than the other parties put together.
• READ MORE: Indyref2 is an insurance policy, says Ian Blackford
The First Minister said the result had been achieved after the SNP had been “clear in our view that the people of Scotland should have a choice at the end of the Brexit process”.
She went on to repeat her pledge to “reflect” on the indyref2 position and would set out her views once she had considered the interests of the SNP and the country as a whole.
Ms Davidson quoted a Survation Poll which said 60 per cent of Scots did not want another independence referendum and said: “This has got nothing to do with listening to the people. It is all about how she can find a way to refloat or rebrand her sinking dream of independence. The people of Scotland just want to put it behind us. She said she is listening to the folk of Scotland and so she should. Her referendum isn’t wanted so will she ditch it now?”
Earlier, the SNP leader had reacted to criticism of her indyref2 proposal by attacking the approach taken towards Brexit by the Conservatives and denouncing Theresa May’s party as a “shower of charlatans”.
Last night, the SNP’s Brexit minister, Michael Russell, used a speech at Glasgow University to say he intended to open discussions with other Scottish parties to seek common ground on achieving “the least bad Brexit for Scotland”.
At Holyrood, Ms Sturgeon said: “On Monday this hapless UK Government is about to start a formal negotiation with the EU with no mandate for its hard Brexit position, no consensus even within its own ranks about what it is it is trying to achieve let alone in the country more widely.
“In four days time we are going to be led off the cliff edge by a Tory Government devoid of legitimacy, credibility and utterly clueless about what it is trying to achieve.
“That is the real and present danger to Scottish jobs, investment and living standards.” She described Ms Davidson as a “one trick pony”, who was unable to confront any issue other than opposing another referendum.
Later the Labour MSP Lewis Macdonald asked the First Minister if work on a second referendum “would now cease?”
• READ MORE: Poll: 60% want Nicola Sturgeon to ditch indyref2
Mr Macdonald said: “Given that the First Minister has said that she wants to be involved in negotiating Brexit on behalf of the UK. Will she not now recognise that she cannot possibly be sitting at the top table and heading for the exit at one and the same time?”
Meanwhile, the Conservatives attacked the SNP after an interview given by Mr Blackford for the BBC.
Questioned on another independence vote, he suggested another vote was far from a foregone conclusion.
Mr Blackford said: “Any referendum, if it does take place, would take place after the Brexit deal has been negotiated.
“What we now see is a situation where I think it’s more likely we can achieve compromise on protecting the people of Scotland being dragged out of the single market against our will. So that’s the immediate priority.”
He added: “The [Scottish]Government always made it clear that any possibility of a referendum would only take place if there were a change in circumstances. The first priority is to protect the interests of the people of Scotland.”
Tory constitution spokesman Adam Tomkins said: “The SNP’s position on a second referendum is in chaos. We have SNP figures in Scotland doubling up on their threat of a second referendum, and now Mr Blackford in London suggesting it could be off.
“In the middle, Nicola Sturgeon is taking a vow of silence and failing to show any leadership whatsoever.”