MICHAEL Russell has told MSPs that plans for a new constitutional convention are being drawn up. 

The Constitutional Affairs Secretary confirmed that he will be consulting with MSPs on the proposal, which will include "wider" Scotland in the debate on the country's future.

Russell told his fellow MSPs: "I'll be inviting members to participate in a new constitutional convention which will aim to secure a consensus across Scottish society on Scotland's right to choose.

"I will consult with party leaders on the detail of this shortly."

But the Tories have dismissed the plans as a "vanity exercise", with Murdo Fraser responding: "Doesn't this, as every week goes by, demonstrate this idea of a constitutional convention as just a back of a fag packet notion dreamed up to placate the pro-independence fanatics on the SNP benches?

"How much is the tax payer going to have to pay to fund this vanity exercise?"

He later tweeted: "More money wasted on the endless quest for #indyref2".

Russell said that the "expensive option" would be staying with the status quo, considering the likely economic cost of Brexit.

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Labour's Alex Rowley suggested that the new body should look beyond independence – including his party's preferred choice of a federalist approach.

Rowley argued: "At this present time in Scotland, there is no majority demanding a second independence referendum.

"I have made clear that the right of the Scottish people to determine their own future is absolute, and it's something that the Labour party will support.

"The discussion for me is how best do we move forward, and in doing so, if we reach a position in the future where there is clearly a demand for a referendum, then that should not be denied.

"Is the Cabinet Secretary more open to having that wider discussion and if those of us who reject the status quo want to see far greater devolution take place – is that on the table for discussion?"

Russell affirmed that it would be up for discussion, stating that he respects Rowley's stance on the independence debate and that it is "precisely the type of thing that Scotland should be talking about".