FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has challenged Prime Minister Boris Johnson to a debate on Scottish independence.

It came as the pair met for talks on issues including Brexit and indyref2 at Bute House, as Johnson made his first visit to Scotland as PM.

The pair have shared a stage before – they took part alongside Andrea Leadsom, Gisela Stuart, Angela Eagles and Amber Rudd in an ITV debate on Brexit in June 2016.

Johnson has yet to officially respond to the challenge.

Speaking after the two leaders held their first talks since Johnson became Prime Minister, Sturgeon said: "We had a very lively discussion, we had a session where it was just the two of us in the room and then we were joined by our officials.

"In both of those sessions we had a very lively exchange of views about independence. I made clear my government's intentions to pass the framework Bill to allow a referendum to take place next year.

"He made the case that he was for the Union, and didn't think Scotland should have the right to choose. And we had a to-ing and fro-ing on the pros and cons of independence.

"At one point I suggested to him we didn't have the debate in Bute House, we took that debate out into the public and let the public decide.

"I even suggested we might debate it live on television – at which point his adviser said it was probably time that we left. We had a very robust exchange of views about that."

Sturgeon also said Johnson secretly wants a no-deal Brexit.

The First Minister said: "After my discussions with Boris Johnson, behind all of the bluff and bluster, this is a Government that is dangerous.

"I think the path that it is pursuing is a dangerous one for Scotland and for all of the UK.

"He says publicly – and he said it to me again today – that he wants a deal with the EU, but there is no clarity whatsoever about how he thinks he can get from the position now where he's taking a very hard line – the Withdrawal Agreement is dead, the backstop is dead.

"If I listen to all of that and listen to what's not being said as well as what is being said, I think that this is a Government that is pursuing a no-deal strategy, however much they may deny that in public."

Sturgeon added: "I think, if he were in this room right now, he would deny this vehemently, but I think he wants a no-deal Brexit."

Johnson's Brexit strategy of hoping the EU will renegotiate a new withdrawal deal is "doomed to failure", she argued.

She continued: "The only strategy or tactic that you can get from it is that he thinks the EU is going to blink.

"Having had many tortuous meetings with his predecessor on the issue of Brexit, I think that for a long period of time that's what she thought as well.

"The EU – whether you think this is a good thing or a bad thing – has been very consistent in the position it's taken. It's been very united and if you're pinning your entire strategy on a belief that's suddenly going to change, then I think it's a strategy that's doomed to failure.

"Or it's a strategy that is destined to fail because you actually want the alternative, which is a no-deal Brexit."

After his meeting with Sturgeon, Johnson left Bute House by the back door.

The new PM used his visit to insist there is "no reason" for Scots to have a second independence referendum.

He hit out at the "campaign to destroy the union" from the SNP – and while he refused to unequivocally rule out handing Holyrood the powers for a second independence referendum, he claimed comments that the 2014 ballot was a "once in a generation" event must be respected.

He stated: "It was a once-in-a-generation consultation of the people, we did it in 2014 and the people were assured then that it was a once-in-a-generation consultation.

"I see no reason now for the politicians to go back on that promise."

Sturgeon, however, made clear her desire for Scots to be able "to chart their own course and choose their own future".

She said: "I made abundantly clear to Boris Johnson my opposition to Brexit and a no-deal Brexit, and also made it clear to him the people of Scotland should be able to chart their own course and choose their own future, not have that future imposed upon them."