An SNP MP has said the likelihood of a second Scottish independence referendum in the short-term is likely to be "nil".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to hold a ballot in the latter part of 2020 but Kenny MacAskill, elected as MP for East Lothian in December, said it is not likely and any extra time before such a vote is "no bad thing".

He made the comments in the forthcoming issue of the Scottish Left Review, as reported by the Herald.

The former Scottish justice secretary said: "The likelihood of a referendum in the short-term is slim. Indeed, more likely nil."

He suggested a more cautious approach to independence and "That additional time is no bad thing", following the 2014 referendum and to allow time to "restore the campaigning machine that was so effective back then".

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Boris Johnson has stated his opposition to a second independence referendum but Scottish Secretary Alister Jack said the Prime Minister will give "careful consideration" to Sturgeon's request last month to be handed the powers to hold another ballot.

In his piece for the magazine, MacAskill called for those on the left of politics to unite following the Conservatives' re-election to office in December.

"We face an attack upon the social infrastructure of our country," he said.

"The welfare state and even the NHS are in (Boris) Johnson's sights, whatever pledges he has made.

"Far from rolling back the gig economy, it's likely to morph into something larger."

He added: "Bringing Scottish elected politicians and parties together is essential.

"Whether that's a constitutional convention as before, a convocation of elected parliamentarians from both chambers or a wider gathering can be discussed and agreed.

"Whoever calls it and whoever attends, it must be held soon. Building on the anger that currently exists rather than allowing despondency to settle in is required.

"It must address the high-level constitutional challenge and seek to create unity either behind independence or just the Scottish people's right to choose their own future.

"It can be the basis to show the world that it's not one party but the people who are demanding it."