The Scottish secretary of state said that the First Minister was a “hostage to her party” and had to deal with constant pressure from former party leader and now SNP MP Alex Salmond on the issue.
David Mundell made the comments ahead of the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham this weekend where Brexit will be the central issue.
Theresa May will lead a session on the issue on Sunday with Mundell arguing that he is favour of a “bespoke” trade deal with the European Union.
He told The Herald: “I’m very, very disappointed that at every turn what seems to be the approach of the Scottish Government is just looking for the next row.
“What we have already seen is for three months an attempt to use Brexit to push independence. The FM very disappointingly mentioned independence within three hours of the[EU] result being declared and has spoken about it every single day since June 23.
“There’s no doubt that there has been an attempt to use Brexit to leverage the argument for independence but it has failed to resonate with the public in Scotland. All the polls show there has been no increase in the level of support for independence and what is very striking is there has been a very significant increase in support for not having another independence referendum.”
The Scottish Secretary said the SNP’s actions were at odds with the beliefs of the majority of those who had voted to remain.
“It’s extremely disingenuous for the First Minister to suggest that people who voted to remain, that their position was if they didn’t get what they wanted, they would immediately want to see the independence debate reopened. We didn’t; we don’t.
“We want to see the UK and Scottish governments working together to get the best possible Brexit deal for Scotland and we want to see it done in a positive way and not in a constant way of looking for rows, arguments and differences.”
The Tory MP urged Nicola Sturgeon to take the issue of a second independence referendum off the table and concentrate on getting the best trade deal possible from the European Union.
He said “That’s what I hope she does but I can’t say I’m optimistic she will. Because she is a prisoner of her party and people like Mr Salmond; she will have to keep juggling the situation and conveying that there’s an ongoing possibility of another referendum.”
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “The people of Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the EU, and it is a democratic outrage that David Mundell and the Tories are trying to drag Scotland to the EU exit door.
“Indeed, David Mundell and senior Tories repeatedly warned about the economic consequences of leaving the EU - and nobody is fooled by these Born-again Brexiteers and their ridiculous attempts to now pretend Brexit will be fantastic.
“We have repeatedly made clear that we are willing to work with the UK Government to protect Scotland’s EU status, but after three months of chaos and confusion, neither we nor anyone else have the slightest clue what their intentions are.”