NICOLA Sturgeon has instructed her civil servants to continue compiling a new “White Paper” on independence despite Boris Johnson refusing her request for another referendum, it has emerged.

According to reports Scottish Government officials have started preparing an updated prospectus for an independent Scotland ahead of the referendum the First Minister wants to stage later this year.

Sources close to the First Minister reportedly told the Daily Telegraph the new blueprint would have a different “shape” and format from the first 650-page document, titled Scotland’s Future, which cost taxpayers £1.3 million to produce and distribute.

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

They indicated the new version will not be such a large dossier, but insiders said the civil servants responsible are still being kept busy providing “all the information Nicola is demanding.”

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The First Minister pledged in her Programme for Government last September to update the original White Paper to “ensure that people have the information they need to make informed choices over the future of the country”.

However, it is unclear whether there will be a referendum this year after the Prime Minister last week emphatically refused to give the First Minister the necessary powers for a legally binding vote.

The First Minister has repeatedly said she does not want to hold an unofficial referendum as a winning vote for the independence side would not be recognised internationally and therefore not achieve independence.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond published the first White Paper in November 2013 after David Cameron had agreed to a referendum.

Johnson and his ministers have rejected Sturgeon’s request for powers to hold a new referendum saying “it was a once in a generation” event.

Some members of the Government have said this refusal should hold for another 40 or 50 years, regardless of any future SNP electoral successes.

Next week, the First Minister will set out her “next steps” in response to Johnson’s refusal of her request for the Section 30 order. Earlier this week, her spokesman told journalists it continued to be her intention to have a vote this year as “that is what people voted for”.

Asked whether she was still planning to hold a referendum this year, after former SNP deputy leader Angus Robertson suggested activists switch their focus to winning a majority in the Scottish Parliament elections in 2020, the spokesman said: “We are committed to what was put forward in the most recent election manifesto weeks ago. That’s what people voted for and it is incumbent on us to try to deliver what people have voted for.”

The First Minister is unlikely to back an official vote, given her previous statements. In a BBC interview on Wednesday, she insisted she was considering “all options”.

However asked if she would pursue an advisory referendum – as former health secretary Alex Neil has suggested – she told the broadcaster she wanted to achieve independence.

“I’m in the business, as somebody who has campaigned for independence all my life, of a process that achieves independence rather than just a gesture,” she answered, “but obviously I am thinking through all options just now and will update when I’ve got to the position of doing that.”

The National: Nicola Sturgeon

Meanwhile, a former UK ambassador to Nato has warned Scotland’s influence in Europe will wither if it does not become independent in a legally binding referendum.

Dame Mariot Leslie, permanent representative of the UK to Nato between 2010 and 2014, said the goodwill directed at Scotland after the Brexit referendum would “evaporate” as European states turn their attention to a trade deal with the UK. Leslie, a member of the FM’s standing council on Europe, voted for independence in 2014. Her words were supported by other experts at Holyrood’s Europe Committee on Thursday.

Responding to reports that work is ongoing on a new White Paper Constitutional Affairs Secretary Michael Russell said: “We have already made it explicitly clear, in our Programme for Government, that we will undertake the necessary work to update the independence prospectus, to ensure that people have the information they need to make an informed choices on the country’s future.”