NICOLA Sturgeon has hit back at warnings from a Tory minister that the UK is preparing to reject proposals for a second independence referendum.

The First Minister insisted Scotland “does not have to sink with the Brexit ship” after a Cabinet member said Theresa May would “flat out” dismiss a Section 30 order for indyref2.

An update on the timetable for another independence vote is expected “within weeks”, but the UK Government has moved to quash hopes that the Scottish Government plan would receive approval from Downing Street.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon to set out independence referendum plan ‘within weeks’

One source close to the Prime Minister told the BBC: "The PM is in no mood to acquiesce to another referendum now – she would flat out say no."

Another said: "There is no answer to this, other than now is not the time."

A cabinet minister said: "I couldn't imagine any circumstances in which she is going to say 'yes'."

And another member of the government added: "The PM will knock it straight back."

One minister said: "Once you've hit the iceberg, you're all on it together."

Responding to the comments on Twitter, Sturgeon said: “The justification here from a UK Minister for trying to block Scotland’s right to choose independence is quite something – ‘once you've hit the iceberg, you're all on it together’. Well, actually, no, Scotland does not have to sink with the Brexit ship.”

Tory chiefs suggested to the BBC that according to their internal polling, support for a second independence referendum is softening.

They claim the vote would serve as a distraction from Brexit.

However, recent research has suggested Brexit could in fact fuel a Yes vote.

A poll published by Best for Britain in September last year found 52% of voters would support a Yes vote if a second referendum was held after Brexit.

READ MORE: Poll reveals majority would back independence after Brexit

And a Panelbase study published in December found a majority of Scots favoured independence over staying in the EU. In the event of a no-deal Brexit almost 59% of Scots believe that independence would be a better option, while 53% say independence would be better than staying in the UK even with a negotiated Brexit deal.

READ MORE: 53 per cent of Scots say independence is better than Brexit - even with a deal

Wary of a post-Brexit surge for the Yes movement, one Tory source warned party colleagues against creating "an environment of chaos, disruption and uncertainty”, according to the BBC.

Commenting on the prospect of Scottish independence, they added: "The dial hasn't been moved - the dial could be moved."