FORMER SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars has hit out at the party over its approach to indyref2.

He accused the SNP's leadership of misleading members by "pretending" indyref2 will happen this year.

In a letter to the Scottish Daily Mail, Sillars said there is division within the party between the majority of supporters who think there will be a vote in 2020 and the minority who do not. 

He said it is the responsibility of SNP members to "convert" those who are not behind independence, rather than "marching every weekend" - a reference to recent All Under One Banner (AUOB) events in Scotland.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Westminster leader Ian Blackford are among the party leaders who say they want to see another vote soon, despite the rejection of the Prime Minister to devolve the necessary powers.

Blackford has accused Boris Johnson of "denying democracy" for his refusal to grant a request for a section 30 order.

A spokeswoman for the party said there was a "resounding democratic mandate" for another poll.

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Sillars wrote: "That 45% can march every weekend, while the Unionist majority goes shopping and remains unpersuaded.

"We in the minority know it is those shoppers we need to discuss things with, in a civilised manner, and convert.

"A longer process than a few months; and one that cannot have any worth until we know the final details of the Brexit negotiations."

The former deputy leader also questioned if there was enough "intellectual rigour" in the arguments for another referendum.

He said: "In my political apprentice years, I was taught by old school socialists that the application of intellectual rigour was an essential mental tool when considering policies.

"That quality is sadly missing, if it ever was there, in today's SNP leadership.

"Just a few minutes' study of the idea of an illegal referendum that scrapes past the courts (most unlikely) shows what a nonsense it is.

"The Unionist majority will take no part, so the SNP ends up with a majority of a minority. What happens then? I have yet to learn of plan B."

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An SNP spokeswoman said: "Scotland is due to be dragged out of Europe against its will in a matter of days - in those circumstances we are determined to give the people of Scotland a choice on the country's future in an independence referendum.

"There is a resounding democratic mandate for a referendum, and the longer that Boris Johnson tries to block it the more that support for a referendum, and for independence, will continue to grow across Scotland."

Sturgeon is set to lead a debate on Scotland's future tomorrow, where the Parliament will be asked to back the mandate for another referendum, before laying out the "next steps" for Scottish independence on Friday - the day the UK is due to leave the European Union.