A FOMRER SNP minister believes the Scottish Parliament should hold a "consultative referendum" on independence if that was legally possible.

Alex Neil claims that a Yes reuslt would pressure the UK Government into granting a Section 30 order to hold an official poll.

He also claimed that opponents of independence would not boycott the vote.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon believes a referendum held without Westminster agreement would not be recognised by the international community.

Speaking on the BBC's Sunday Politics Scotland, the former Scottish Health Secretary Alex Neil dismissed comparisons with Catalonia's independence referendum.

He said: "It's not a Catalonia situation where, according to unionists, the Spanish constitution made the Catalonian referendum unconstitutional and therefore boycotted it.

"There's a very big difference between boycotting an 'unconstitutional illegal' referendum and boycotting a legal referendum.

"The point I'm making is let's see if a consultative referendum, at the right time, could be legal."

He added: "The political reality is that if you ran a legal consultative referendum and the result was in favour of independence, the game's a bogey for the union because the political reality is that's it.”

"The rest of the people who want to vote in a legal referendum, even those who do not want to boycott it but want to vote against independence, they can't be held to ransom because the Conservative Party and their cronies are going to abstain."

QC Aidan O’Neil stated last week that the Scottish Parliament may already have the power to hold a referendum without Westminster approval, though it would need to to be tested in court.

However, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie believes a consultative referendum would be "dead in the water" before it started.

"People like me would not support it. We would see it as another distraction.... I can't see us wanting to support such an initiative," he told the same programme.

"It would be another distraction from the government to focus on the real challenges."