JIM Sillars, former deputy leader of the SNP, has called for members to "stop marching and start thinking".

Sillars spoke out just a week after tens of thousands took to the streets of Glasgow to demand another independence referendum.

Speaking to Scotland On Sunday, Sillars claimed it was "sheer madness" for the SNP to continue demanding a referendum this year.

The First Minister has made clear she wants to see another constitutional poll this year, but the Prime Minister earlier this week rejected the Scottish Government's request for powers to be devolved to Holyrood, paving the way for another referendum.

The former MP said SNP representatives at Westminster should focus on holding the UK Government to account over the final Brexit deal before touting independence.

He said: "We have hardly moved the numbers in favour of independence.

"And, until Brexit is done by the end of this year and we know the full details of any trade deal, it's impossible for the independence movement to construct a policy in relation to England, which is our largest market by far.

"Until Brexit is deemed to be done, and we can examine it in detail to see how it works in practice, we cannot devise a policy that will convince people to vote for independence in a substantial majority."

He continued: "The independence movement, and in particular the MPs at Westminster, should stop shouting for an independence referendum this year and instead be submitting the details of the free trade negotiations to forensic examination."

The comments come as former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson switched focus to next year's elections at Holyrood, calling on members of the party to "start canvassing, leafleting and campaigning now" to win a majority in the Scottish Parliament.

He said: "Hard as it is to endure given the repeated electoral mandates for an independence referendum, the reality is that the issue of indyref2 will be decided in the 2021 Scottish Parliament elections. With a majority of pro-independence MSPs, it will be impossible to oppose Scottish democracy.

"That makes the 2021 elections the most important Scottish Parliament vote ever.

"Put simply, the challenge to return a pro-independence majority of MSPs is the key to Scotland's future. There are only 67 weeks until polling day on May 6 2021.

"There is no time to waste. We need to start now. We need to start canvassing, leafleting and campaigning now.

"SNP members and volunteers, sitting councillors, MSPs, MPs and soon-to-be selected candidates need to drive the campaign in their wards and constituencies to guarantee success.

"There is no time for distractions. Now is the time to keep the eye on the independence prize."