MICHAEL Gove has been accused of trying to bully the Electoral Commission after it was formally asked to re-test the question which would be used in a Scottish independence referendum.

The Tory minister has come under fire from Michael Russell after he penned a letter to commission chairman Sir John Holmes.

In it, Gove claims a request by the First Minister to review the question for a new independence referendum is a “a poor use of time”.

Hitting back, Russell tweeted: “It is a ‘poor use of time’ for a U.K. Government Minister to try to interfere with & bully an independent statutory body.

“Given the disaster that is #Brexit Gove should be giving all his attention to mitigating its effect on businesses & England’s failing public services.”

Nicola Sturgeon announced in January that she was asking the Electoral Commission to formally "re-test" the question "should Scotland be an independent country?"

But Gove dismissed the move as an attempt to convince SNP members that a indyref2 is “imminent”.

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In his letter to the Electoral Commission chairman, the Cabinet Office Minister wrote: "The Electoral Commission of course has an important role in testing the suitability of referendum questions where there is a referendum in prospect.

"However, there is no lawful referendum on Scottish independence in prospect and in view of that, I believe the Scottish Government’s request to you represents a poor use of time, resource and public money and is an exercise designed to persuade Scottish National Party members that a referendum is imminent."

The Cabinet Office has been approached for comment.