NICOLA Sturgeon would be making a mistake to continue giving unconditional backing for a second EU vote and she should review her support for it, a former Scottish Government minister has said.

Alex Neil warned that favouring a so-called People’s Vote could “scupper Scottish independence” and has called for the First Minister to insist she would only support it in exchange for Holyrood being given the power over an independence referendum and referendums generally.

READ MORE: Support for People’s Vote could actually drive No voters to back indy

He spoke out after his party colleague Pete Wishart warned backing a People’s Vote on Brexit could present “all sorts of risks to a future independence referendum for nothing”.

Wishart, who is the longest serving SNP MP, said backing a second EU vote could make it difficult to resist calls for a confirmatory ballot in Scotland in the event of a Yes win in a second independence referendum. Speaking to The National, Neil said he agreed with Wishart.

“If you set the precedent, effectively what it means is that even if we win indyref2, we would have to have indyref3 to confirm it once the deal is done. So all it’s doing is opening up an opportunity for Westminster to scupper independence in my view,” he told The National.

Neil voted Leave in 2016 and said he would not support a second Brexit referendum under any circumstances.

“Given that the leadership said they would support a second Brexit referendum, if they get nothing in return for that then that would be a huge mistake in my view,” he said.

“If they are going to continue with this line of supporting a second Brexit referendum they have got to get something in return.

“And the obvious thing to get in return is an absolute guarantee that the Scottish Parliament will get the power to decide if and when any referendum is held in Scotland on independence or indeed any other subject.

“If we don’t get that why on earth should we support the Unionists in trying to get a second referendum on Brexit?

The former Scottish health secretary, added: “How can we join forces with Unionists. [Scottish Labour leader] Richard Leonard has said that even if the Scottish people give the SNP a mandate at the next election for a second independence referendum, he would oppose it. That is the Unionist position and why the hell should we bail out the Unionists on Brexit? It’s time we got tough.”

He continued: “I personally don’t think it is going to come to a second EU referendum anyway. The chances of it happening are not high because I don’t think it will command enough support in the Commons ... which is another reason why I am perplexed that we declared support for it. And also , as Nicola [Sturgeon] herself has pointed out, we have no guarantees the Scottish result would be treated any differently than it was the first time around.”

Last month the First Minister said SNP MPs would back a People’s Vote, if given the option. She said: “No doubt calls for a second referendum would grow in those circumstances, and I’ve said before we wouldn’t stand in the way of a second referendum. I think SNP MPs would undoubtedly vote for that proposition.”

LibDem leader Vince Cable has said a second referendum should be mandatory if Scotland voted for independence. “If there ever were in future a referendum on Scottish independence and people voted for it, I think they would themselves have to accept that there should then be a confirmatory vote at the end,” he said.

An SNP spokesman commented: “We have made it clear we would push strongly for any second EU referendum to have safeguards to ensure Scotland’s voice is protected in the event of Scotland voting remain again while the UK as a whole voted to leave.

“Scotland’s overwhelming vote to remain in 2016 – by far the most decisive vote of any of the UK nations – has been completely ignored, which underlines how Westminster completely fails to represent or protect Scotland’s vital national interests.”

Labour’s Ian Murray said: “We are inching towards a parliamentary

majority for a People’s Vote, so this raises questions about how Pete Wishart and other SNP MPs will vote in the Commons.”

Commenting Joanna Cherry, SNP MP said: “The SNP conference backed the FM’s decision to support a second referendum on Brexit, provided the option to remain is on the ballot paper, and I think we were right to do so. Polls show the majority of SNP voters agree.”

She added: “It’s clear now there can be no form of Brexit that does not damage Scotland’s economy and society. We should continue to oppose Brexit not try to accommodate the damage. When circumstances change people should be allowed to change their minds.” This is a fundamental principle of democracy, a good precedent to set and the one which justifies a second Indyref despite the No vote in 2014. If Scotland was already an independent country our foreign policy would be to keep England as close to the Single Market and Customs Union as possible.

“Those who want to stop Brexit but oppose a People’s Vote seem unable to suggest an alternative course of action. With the Scottish court case to establish whether article 50 can be unilaterally revoked headed to the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg, SNP MPs now have the chance to take the lead on showing the way out of Brexit at Westminster.

“The movement for a second vote is not supported by the UK Government or, as yet, unequivocally, by Labour. It’s a cross-party and no party coalition and as such it’s not in a position to give special undertakings should England vote to leave again whilst Scotland votes to remain.

“If England votes to leave and Scotland votes to remain again the mandate for a second independence referendum cannot be ignored any longer. If all the nations of the UK vote to remain, then the UK remains in the single market and customs union and the arguments for independence existed before Brexit and have been strengthened by the way Scotland has been side-lined during the Brexit process and devolution undermined.”