Nicola Sturgeon has been warned that Scots “won’t be fooled” by any attempt to rebrand a second independence referendum as a choice on the final terms of Brexit.
The First Minister insisted she will set out the way ahead after “talking to people across the SNP” and will act in the wider interest of Scotland.
It came as opposition MSPs at Holyrood stepped up calls for the SNP to ditch its plans for a second independence referendum after the party suffered major losses in last week’s general election north of the Border.
But it came after Nationalist MEP Alyn Smith said yesterday that a second vote on leaving the UK will be a vote “on the terms of Brexit set against independence” while reports indicate Ms Sturgeon is to shift the focus of the future debate in this direction.
Branding media speculation about her plans as “nonsense”, Ms Sturgeon said on Twitter: “I’ll set out way forward in due course after talking to people across @theSNP. I’ll take decisions in best interests, not just of @theSNP, but of Scotland...and not be dictated to by demands for quick headlines!”
She added: “In meantime, @scotgov will focus on trying to influence Brexit talks – a Tory led hard Brexit is simply not acceptable.”
But opponents stepped up calls for her to shelve her plans for another referendum after last week’s election saw almost two-thirds of Scots back pro-union parties while SNP support fell from 50 per cent to 37 per cent.
“The First Minister only wants to listen to those in her own party on this issue, and she’s turning a tin ear to everyone outside the SNP who just want a break from her political games,” said Scottish Conservative MSP Murdo Fraser
“Her panicked attempt to refute these plans will fool no-one. The truth is that this is a First Minister who has given up representing Scotland and is now focused solely on her discredited and unwanted plan to drag us back to a second referendum.
“Whatever challenges are thrown up by Brexit, none are solved by tearing our own union in two.
“Nicola Sturgeon must focus on schools and our NHS and take her threat of a second referendum off the table now.”
The Scottish Parliament voted in favour of a second referendum in March when the SNP combined with the Greens to push through a motion. But the constitution is the responsibility of Westminster and a second vote has been ruled out by Theresa May who said “now is not the time”.
Labour election manager James Kelly said: “Scotland won’t be fooled by Nicola Sturgeon’s desperate plan to rebrand her divisive referendum.
The Nationalists can rebrand all they want. It’s not ScotRef, it’s indyref2: the sequel – and Scots have made it clear they don’t want to see it.
“Last Thursday people sent Nicola Sturgeon a clear message – drop the division and get back to the day job. We need a government focused on schools and hospitals, not another referendum.”
Opposition MSPs stepped up the pressure on the SNP to shelve its referendum plans at Holyrood during a debate on the economy.
Tory economy spokesman Dean Lockhart said last week’s election was an “overwhelming rejection” of independence.
“There is now time for the SNP to listen to the people of Scotland and to abandon the policy that has most damaged Scotland’s economy – the SNP’s constant campaigning for independence,” he said.
Earlier this year, the Scottish Parliament voted in favour of a section 30 order for a second referemdum.
Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “If the UK government wants to change that position, the ball is very firmly in their court.
“As the government which triggered an unnecessary referendum and lost, then triggered an unnecessary election and lost their majority, I urge them to think again.”