NICOLA Sturgeon has told senior allies in the SNP to refrain from using the term “indyref2”.

The First Minister said she believed the phrase was inappropriate as a way of describing a new vote on independence as the circumstances of the vote had “completely changed”.

She made her views clear earlier this month at a party meeting attended by around 25 key people.

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The National has been told her comments were made in passing as the agenda for the meeting moved on to the subject of Scottish independence and the prospect of a second plebiscite. “We were having a conversation about independence generally and Nicola said we shouldn’t be making reference to indyref2.

“She said this is a new referendum, we have a different set of circumstances, different reasons for having one and it is a completely separate matter,” an insider said.

“She said a new referendum is specifically about the democratic deficit and about being pulled out of the European Union against our will. Brexit demonstrates most clearly that as a country we are not being heard and the UK is not a nation of equals.”

Alex Salmond made reference to the shift in language when he spoke at a Yes rally in Ellon on Saturday.

“The European issue has brought indyref2, or new indyref, as I’ve got to learn to call it, apparently, back to the top of the agenda,” he told the crowd.

The Scottish Greens are also not keen on the term “indyref2” saying it suggested that the new referendum was a sequel to the September 2014 vote, rather than a very different prospect.

“The debate over Scotland’s future entered new territory with English votes for English Laws, further devolution which hasn’t gone nearly far enough and of course the hugely-damaging Brexit vote. The next referendum isn’t just a sequel to 2014 so #indyref2 isn’t the right fit.,” said a spokesman.

“When the Tories, aided by Labour, appear hell-bent on using Brexit to turn these islands into an anti-immigrant tax haven, we need to focus on strengthening the arguments for independence and not be lost in the online echo chamber.”

Speculation has been mounting over the past months that Sturgeon is “weeks away” from calling a second independence referendum.

Last week a poll indicated that support for independence had surged to 49 per cent – up four points since the September 2014 vote – following Theresa May’s speech in London in which she confirmed the UK would be leaving the single market, and would prefer “no deal” to a “bad deal” with the EU.

The First Minister has ruled out a referendum this year, and is also prepared not to push ahead with one if May consents to the Scottish Government’s proposals to allow Scotland to remain in the single market with Holyrood handed a raft of new powers repatriated from Brussels.

Not remaining in the single market would be deeply economically damaging for Scotland, with independent analysis from the University of Strathclyde’s Fraser of Allander Institute suggesting up to 80,000 jobs would be a lost over a decade.

May has yet to respond formally to the Scottish Government’s proposals, though has indicated the UK is leaving as “one nation”.

May has already said she intends to start the Article 50 process in March and Scottish Brexit Minister Mike Russell has said the “clock is ticking” for an agreement to be reached.

A spokesman for the SNP said the Sturgeon had spoken on the issue previously, and referred to comments she made on the topic at a party away day in Stirling in September.

At the time, she said: “First, it will be a new debate. It will not be a rerun of 2014. It will not be, in the language of social media, #indyref2.”