NICOLA Sturgeon has said she will request UK Government consent for another referendum on Scottish independence before the end of the year.

The First Minister revealed she would ask Downing Street for a Section 30 order “over the next matter of weeks” as she presses ahead with plans to hold a vote in the latter half of 2020. The Referendums (Scotland) Bill, which makes provision for such a vote, was produced by the Scottish Government in May.

The SNP leader told BBC One’s Andrew Marr show: “I’m putting legislation through the Scottish Parliament right now, to put the rules and regulations in place. As that legislation progresses we will make that request for a Section 30 order.”

READ MORE: SNP members vote down rebel’s alternative route to independence​

Asked if she would request the order this year, she replied “yes”. Asked if it would be this month, she said: “We will do it at an appropriate moment when the legislation is passing. It is likely to be over the next matter of weeks. It is coming soon.

“Of course we don’t yet know who is likely to be in Downing Street, the situation is very fluid.”

As the SNP annual conference opened in Aberdeen, the First Minister reiterated her view that holding a legal referendum is the only route for Scotland to secure independence.

In an article in the Sunday National, she wrote: “I will not fall into the trap that our Unionist opponents want me to, by deviating from our current path of ensuring the next independence referendum is legal and constitutional.

“We don’t need to be talking about Plan B when we have a perfectly good Plan A – especially when any Plan B is exactly the route many opponents of independence would like us to go down.

“If we were to try to hold a referendum that wasn’t recognised as legal and legitimate – or to claim a mandate for independence without having demonstrated majority support for it – it would not carry the legal, political and diplomatic weight that is needed.”

Her insistence on following the same process as the plebiscite of 2014 has been backed by the Scottish Greens. Patrick Harvie, the party’s co-convenor, dismissed any move to unilaterally declare independence, saying it was a decision for the people.

He told his party’s conference in Inverness on Saturday: “Independence can and only will be delivered in a democratic manner, that’s the kind of Scotland I want to live in.

“I wouldn’t want to live in a Scotland that had achieved independence by forcing it on people. It has to be a choice, it has to be a democratic choice that the people of Scotland decide to make.”

In July, on his first visit to Scotland after becoming Prime Minister, Boris Johnson declared there was “no reason” for a second independence referendum and that people had been assured it was a “once-in-a-generation event” in 2014.

Last month he again ruled out giving permission for indyref2, saying: “They were promised this was a once-in-a-generation thing and I think we should stick with that.”

However, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he would “not rule out” consent for a second referendum, although it would be not be authorised by his government in its “formative years”.

With polls suggesting the SNP could win 50 seats in the next General Election – which could be imminent as a result of the Brexit chaos – the party could have decisive influence in a hung parliament.

Responding, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: “We need to resolve the constitutional crisis – not create another one.

“Scotland needs a Labour government that will deliver £70 billion of investment in our country. Our NHS, schools and business need this investment.

“The prospect of a socialist Britain offers far more than that of a separate Scotland.”