NICOLA Sturgeon insisted last night that the best way to achieve independence for Scotland is via a referendum.

It was reported at the weekend that senior SNP figures had been floating the possibility of an alternative path, if Theresa May continues to refuse to grant a Section 30 order which would allow another vote to take place.

It was suggested that, in the absence of indyref2, the SNP winning a majority of MPs in Scotland in a General Election could be itself enough of a trigger to begin negotiation on leaving the UK.

But the First Minister said last night that it remained SNP policy that the way to achieve independence was through another referendum.

She told BBC Radio Scotland: “On the question of a referendum, it is SNP policy, it continues to be SNP policy, that the route to independence is through a referendum.

“That is for good reason. That is the way to pass the test any vote of that nature has to pass, a chance for people to unambiguously express a majority view for independence in a process that is legitimate, and would be accepted.

“Now, I can understand why people in the SNP get frustrated when they hear a Tory Government that the majority don’t vote for in Scotland saying ‘No’ to that, but of course the way to get over that is to build support for independence to a level where no Tory Government can stand in its way.”

The comments echo her previous praise for the 2014 independence referendum as the “gold standard” which should be used in any future vote.

Sturgeon also said she would give her view on the timing of another referendum once the House of Commons had come through the Brexit process.

Over the weekend Keith Brown, the SNP depute leader, and Ian Blackford, the SNP Westminster leader, suggested their party would not accept a refusal by May or another Prime Minister to grant a Section 30 order.

Writing in the Sunday National, Brown said: “The SNP, and the wider independence movement, is, by definition, committed to the idea of self-determination; we can never submit to the idea that this right to self-determination can be vetoed.”

Brown did not spell out what a Plan B might look like. However, an unnamed senior SNP parliamentarian told the Sunday Times: “We might have to look at alternative expressions of the national will. We can go forward other than through a Section 30 order. Under no circumstances would we do anything illegal. If illegality was a route, Catalonia would be independent.”

The comment followed remarks by shadow chancellor John McDonnell that Labour would reject a deal with the SNP on a new referendum in exchange for supporting a minority Labour government.

Last month, the First Minister raised what course of action was possible if a Section 30 order request was refused. She told a Women for Independence conference that in that case, she may ask Scots to decide on the issue at the next election. She said: “All of this has taken me to the point that I don’t have the easy answer to this. We may get into the situation where the UK Government says “No we’re not going to agree the Section 30 order” and I think if that happens we need to rise above that, we need to make the case of how unreasonable that is.

“And ultimately the only way through that is to take that to an election to say ‘No we will have absolutely our right to choose’. I think that’s maybe what that will take.”

SNP MP Joanna Cherry said in October independence could be achieved through a “democratic event” rather than a referendum.

But Mhairi Hunter, an SNP councillor in Glasgow hit out. She tweeted: “Before people start arguing about whether there are alternatives to winning a referendum to start the independence process (in my view there isn’t) there are 2 key points to consider. 1) there is not yet a majority for independence & 2) a referendum is SNP policy.”