NICOLA Sturgeon has been urged to force Boris Johnson into a courtroom battle over indyref2, but there’s disagreement between two of her most senior MPs about the risks involved.

Over the weekend Joanna Cherry called on the Scottish Government to draft legislation for a consultative vote on Scottish independence, in a direct challenge to Downing Street.

The Edinburgh South West MP said this would then force the Tory Government to go to the Supreme Court to see “whether such a referendum is lawful”.

The National: Joanna Cherry

She said: “many legal experts think [the Scottish Government] would win the argument.”

Cherry then added that even if the SNP ministers lost the case it would not set the campaign for independence “back any further from where we are now.”

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However, her Westminster colleague Pete Wishart wasn’t convinced.

He worried that a lost legal challenge “would set the case for Indy back significantly.”

Though, he added, this is “something that should be kept in the armoury.”

The National: SNP MP Pete Wishart

Both politicians were responding to a stunning new poll in our sister paper, the Sunday National, revealing that Scottish voters overwhelmingly back a legal battle with Johnson if he continues to refuse a Section 30 order which devolves the necessary powers to allow a “gold-standard” independence referendum.

The finding was the latest result from the Panelbase poll conducted for the ScotGoesPop blog, supported by The National.

The poll question asked: “There are differing legal opinions on whether the Scottish Parliament currently has the power to hold a consultative referendum on independence without Westminster’s permission.

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“If the UK Government continues to refuse to give permission, do you think the Scottish Parliament should legislate to hold a referendum and then allow the courts to decide whether it can take place?”

Of those who expressed an opinion, 56% agreed with the statement, with 44% saying no.

The SNP leadership has been careful to stress any referendum must be seen as legally watertight, though earlier this month Sturgeon explicitly refused to rule out court action as she set out her preferred next steps in the campaign for independence.

However, she said she would continue to push for a Section 30 order.

The National: Boris Johnson

Johnson has so far been clear that has no intention of granting such an order, telling the First Minister he could not “agree to any request for a transfer of power that would lead to further independence referendums”

Cherry told the Sunday National she welcomed the findings of the poll.

She said: “Having Holyrood pass a bill to hold a referendum could be part of a multi-faceted strategy to move us away from the current impasse and stop the constant and unproductive talk about Section 30 orders and seeking ‘permission’ to act from Westminster.

“The balance of legal opinion is that we might well win any legal challenge and I don’t believe that to lose any court challenge mounted in response would set us back any further than where we are just now.

“Boris Johnson should be in notice that we have options and we are not afraid to push forward.”

Setting out her case on Twitter Cherry said “now is the moment to begin the preparations. To tell Johnson ‘see you in court’ if he continues to block Scotland’s demand for #Indyref2’’.

Responding to the poll, her colleague Wishart warned that a consultative referendum could ultimately be boycotted by the pro-union side, even if legal.

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He also warned of the consequences of losing to the UK Government in the Supreme Court.

“This is fantastic but it doesn’t get round the problem that without UK engagement there will be no ‘No’ proposition and therefore difficulties in any successful referendum being recognised.

“And I don’t get that a lost ‘legal challenge’ is problem-free. It would set the case for Indy back significantly.

“However, this is something that should be kept in the armoury. But right now we are winning and support for independence rising with Tory intransigence, which will only continue. It’s getting everything properly in a row. We will need a huge majority if it’s a Holyrood poll.”

Earlier this month, the Panelbase poll, which was carried out between January 28 and 31, put support for independence at 52%.