THE UK leading polling expert has suggested that the next General Election could be used as an effective independence referendum if the UK Government continues to ignore calls for a second vote.

Professor John Curtice has warned that if Boris Johnson continues to reject calls from the Scottish Government for a second referendum on independence, it could lead to a “game of chicken” between the two governments.

The SNP is on course to secure a majority at next year’s Holyrood election and will campaign with a manifesto commitment of a second referendum.

But Sir John, who is professor of politics at Strathclyde University, believes the 2024 General Election could see a stance adopted that a majority of Scottish seats at Westminster could be justification for independence – a move back to the party’s pre-devolution perspective.

Speaking to The Courier, he said: “If the SNP get an overall majority at Holyrood on their own next year, which I think is the condition they will have to satisfy, and by one means or another the UK Government says no, then you have to ask what position they will adopt in response.

“One possibility would be to say that if the UK Government is not willing to accept a referendum, then they would regard forthcoming elections as indeed a vote on independence.”

On Wednesday, Boris Johnson was asked by SNP MP, Angus MacNeil whether he will ever agree to a section 30 order, required for a second independence referendum to take place.

Johnson said: “The Scottish Nationalist Party fought the referendum in 2014 very clearly on the understanding that it was a once in a generation event.

“It was something that I believe both Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond said at the time in persuading people to cast their votes."

Johnson continual rejection of a Section 30 order has led to a discussion in the SNP about a way forward to secure independence should he stick to this stance.

MacNeil and Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny last year tried to get the SNP to back a Plan B route. But their attempts were defeated following a stormy debate at the party’s conference in Aberdeen.

Las month Sir John cautioned the SNP against putting a Plan B route to independence in its Holyrood manifesto warning it could weaken its negotiating position with Boris Johnson to get a section 30 order.

The leading academic said the party would need to present a clear position to voters before the Holyrood election about what it sought from the Prime Minister.

An inclusion of an alternative process to independence could risk such clarity and “let Johnson off the hook”, he told The National.

“If you want to maximise the pressure on the UK Government you don’t want to tell them what your Plan B is.

“If you want the result of the election next year to maximise the pressure on the UK Government, then you want to be able to say. ‘We went to the people, the people have said yes, so can we please have our referendum in exactly the same way we did in 2014.