DENNIS Canavan has called for a second referendum to be held soon otherwise he says the independence movement could “miss the boat”.

The former MP and MSP, who chaired Yes Scotland, the lead campaign body in the 2014 vote, warned the window of opportunity for a new plebiscite is closing with the possibility that there may be no pro independence majority of SNP and Green MSPs in Holyrood after the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021.

“The Scottish Government should make an early announcement about holding a referendum within the lifetime of the present Scottish Parliament,” he told The Sunday Times.

“Failure to do so would risk missing the boat because the present mandate will expire, and there is no guarantee that a similar mandate would be won at the next elections to the Scottish Parliament – especially if the Scottish Government is perceived to be pussy footing around.”

He argued that an official call by Nicola Sturgeon for a second independence referendum would “almost certainly help the cause of independence” and that the UK Government would risk a backlash if it refused to allow one.

“The people would be faced with a clear choice between continuing chaos at Westminster or building a new Scotland which will build a full part in the international community,” he added.

The First Minister has pledged she will make her views known on the possible timing of a second independence referendum in a “matter of weeks”.

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Meanwhile, debate persists among the Yes movement over what her best course of action should be. The Scottish Greens and some SNP figures including MP Angus MacNeil and former MP George Kerevan want a new vote before 2021.

The National:

Others, including Andrew Wilson, chair of the SNP’s Growth Commission, MEP Alyn Smith and MP Stephen Gethins, are among those who back a longer term approach.

Writing in the Sunday National yesterday, Gethins, the party’s foreign affairs and Europe spokesman, said: “The people of Scotland deserve and should be given a choice of the kind of future they want. Our goal and vision is that of an independent member state of the EU. After all the people of Scotland voted to retain our EU membership. However, right now we are still unclear on what kind of relationship the UK will have with the rest of Europe.”

He added: “It is frustrating but I want to see our partners elsewhere in these islands thrive, that means defeating the siren voices of no deal Brexit as much as those who promise that Scotland is an equal partner even in the face of the evidence. Then with two clear options the people of Scotland should be able to choose their future.”

READ MORE: Stephen Gethins: Scotland should choose its future after Brexit

Last week Smith also argued more clarity on Brexit was needed before there was a second vote. “There are practical questions about what the independence proposition is going to be, vis-a-vis the EU and vis-a-vis the rest of the UK, and until we see what the end point of the UK is likely to be relative to the EU, then there are practical questions we’re not ready with yet ... I don’t think we’re ready to press the button on a independence referendum yet, because there are too many moving parts to Brexit.”