Nicola Sturgeon has slammed Tory leadership contenders who ruled out a second Scottish independence referendum just hours after she published legislation for a second vote on leaving the UK.
UK Justice Secretary Sajid Javid, Health Secretary Matt Hancock and Rory Stewart spoke out on the day that the Scottish Government published the Referendums (Scotland) Bill at Holyrood on Wednesday.
READ MORE: Scottish independence: Tory leadership hopefuls rule out second referendum
The Scottish First Minister had warned it would be a "democratic outrage" if Westminster, which has power over the constitution, sought to block a fresh vote on Scotland leaving the UK.
The legislation would allow a referendum to be staged before the end of the current Parliament in mid-2021, but Constitutional Relations Secretary Mike Russell said this could be accelerated in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
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He said it was the intention to seek this from Theresa May's replacement.
"We intend at a future date to negotiate with the UK Government for a Section 30 order to put beyond doubt our competence to hold a referendum on independence," he told MSPs at Holyrood.
But Mr Javid immediately made it clear he would be taking a hard line against a second vote.
"If I become PM, I won’t allow a second Scottish independence referendum," he said on Twitter.
"People stated views clearly in 2014, so there should be no second vote.
"Nicola Sturgeon should spend more time improving public services in Scotland, and less time grandstanding."
Mr Stewart also responded the publication of the legislation in unequivocal terms.
"In everything we do and everything we say in this leadership race we should remember that the key is to unify the country and not divide the United Kingdom" he added on Twitter.
And Mr Hancock added: "The people have spoken. No way, Nicola."
It prompted an angry response from Ms Sturgeon who has said that Westminster's refusal to hand Holyrood the power to stage a second vote on leaving the UK as "unsustainable".
She stated: "Memo to Tory leadership candidates: A majority of Scots - independence supporters and opponents alike - will not accept being told by a Tory PM that we are not ‘allowed’ to choose our own future."
Mr Russell also hit out at the intervention of the Tory leadership hopefuls.
"Scotland’s future is not a prop to be bandied about to bolster the hard line credentials of would be PMs," he added.