RUTH Davidson has claimed that the SNP would need to win an “outright majority” in the next Holyrood election before the UK Government would agree to a second Scottish independence referendum.

The Scottish Conservative leader made the remarks during a vist to London to help launch the leadership campaign of the Home Secretary Sajid Javid.

The Scottish Tory leader has previously insisted that under no circumstances would the UK Government grant a Section 30 order to hold a second referendum.

The SNP do not have have an overall majority in the Scottish Parliament – but with the Greens included pro-independence parties could pass legislation for a new vote.

Davidson appeared to insist last night that would not be enough.

She told the BBC: “If she [Nicola Sturgeon] puts it in a manifesto that she’s going to hold another referendum and she wins a majority outright, then she can negotiate with the UK Government in the same way as happened last time.

“But she doesn’t get to just, in the middle of a parliament where she’s lost her majority, get to stick her hand up and say I’m going to re-run this referendum again and again until I get the result I want.”

Last night embarrassing footage emerged on social media which showed Davidson articulating a very different view. In a widely shared BBC Scotland clip, from the broadcaster’s 2011 election night coverage, Davidson says: “You don’t get a referendum for free, you have to earn it.

“So if the Greens and the SNP, and the SSP or any of the other parties who have expressed an interest in independence get over the line, can make a coalition, can make a majority, can get the votes in the Parliament, then they’ll vote through a referendum.”

She adds: “That’s what democracy is all about.”

WATCH: This is what Ruth Davidson used to think about indyref2

SNP Depute Keith Brown tweeted in response: “As ever this directly contradicts R Davidson’s previous statement, that a majority or ‘coalition’ of votes in the Scottish Parl’t was sufficient, but, consistency eh? More worrying are her efforts to get a Parliament she is not in to undermine one she is meant to represent.”

Davidson also used her introduction to Javid’s leadership bid to launch an bitter attack on the SNP and independence movement in Scotland describing them as “ugly, divisive and dangerous”.

“If the Conservatives are going to keep Jeremy Corbyn out of Number Ten and help keep the Union together we must build an electoral coalition of people who have stopped listening to us,” she said.

“Someone who speaks to their concerns ... someone who is able to tell the story of our country, of all of our country, someone who understands and who can bring our nations together and give everyone Scotland, England, Wales and Northern Ireland greater reasons to have pride in our story.”

And she went on: “I’ve seen the consequences of nationalism in Scotland where nationalism has replaced patriotism and it is ugly and divisive and it is dangerous.”

Pete Wishart, the SNP MP and frontbencher, hit back, saying Davidson’s attack was “appalling” and a deliberate misrepresentation of the SNP and Yes movement.

Noting Javid’s previous insistence that he would not allow a new independence vote if he became Prime Minister, Wishart said: “What is dangerous is to continually say no to the democratic wishes of the Scottish people, that is a dangerous agenda to put forward from someone who claims to be a unity candidate.

The SNP and independence movement is progressive and outward looking. The core of our debate is about civic nationalism, inclusion and consensus. This is an appalling attack.”

During her introduction for Javid’s leadership bid, Davidson heaped praise on what what she said were Javid’s ideas and “restless energy” and said he had “character in spades”.

She said Javid, who is the son of a bus driver who came to the UK from Pakistan, was a candidate who was “not afraid to be different” and would help “bring the country together”.

In his speech Javid in turn praised Davidson’s leadership of the Scottish Tories, saying she had made voters in Scotland “look at our party again”.

He added: “Ruth Davidson brought that change and with her she brought huge gains. Thanks to Ruth and her team we are winning again ... I am so proud to have Ruth on team Saj as the change she has brought to Holyrood is the change I will bring to Westminster.”

Ahead of the Javid’s leadership campaign launch Nicola Sturgeon slammed Davidson for supporting Javid branding it “out of touch” with most Scots.

The First Minister said Javid’s readiness to accept a no-deal Brexit was a concern and compared with Davidson’s trenchant support for Remain during a keynote campaign event during the 2016 referendum at Wembley.

“Ruth Davidson is supporting a candidate who says he favours a catastrophic no deal Brexit over no Brexit at all. What a turn around from the great Remainer of Wembley stadium. And hard to imagine a position more out of touch with the vast majority in Scotland,” she wrote on Twitter.