THE SNP will publish their referendum bill later this week, Michael Russell has said.

Speaking to the BBC’s Sunday Show earlier today, the Scottish Constitution Secretary said that the bill will show that the SNP are looking to take Scotland “forward positively” after the May elections.

The Scottish Parliament will go into recess from the evening of Wednesday March 24, six weeks ahead of the upcoming parliamentary vote.

The SNP have promised to hold a referendum on independence should they return a majority in those elections, with recent polls suggesting their chances of doing so stand on a knife-edge.

Russell today told the BBC that he wanted to admit the government’s failures in the harassment complaints inquiry, but focus on the positives in order to convince voters to support his party.

He said: “I want to go into the election to say ‘we got this badly wrong’, in terms of what happened with the [harassment complaints] process, that should not have happened.

READ MORE: Michael Russell doubles down on independence referendum pledge

“I want to point to the record of the government, which I think is very good. I want to talk about the ability of those who are coming forward, now I’m standing down others are coming in, and I want to talk about the vision we have of independence.

“This week we will publish our referendum bill. I want to talk about those positive things so Scotland needs to go forward positively.

“Nevertheless, what we’ve been hearing from others is an attempt to undermine the Scottish Parliament which we know has been happening over the last three or four years from the Tory Government, but it’s turbocharged now and it’s being turbocharged by the Scottish Tories and that is really sad.”

The National:

Asked for further details of the referendum bill, including a potential time frame for holding the vote, Russell (above) said: “It’s going to say that we will hold a referendum when the time is right to hold it and that will be at the conclusion of the pandemic.

“Nobody is suggesting anything else, and again that’s been incredibly misrepresented. Again, it’s going to say something incredibly normal, which is that people should have the right to decide their own future. That’s how the world works.”

Russell has previously stressed that the SNP will aim to put the bill to parliament before it goes to recess for the 2021 elections.

The Constitution Secretary also spoke to the BBC programme about the conclusions of the harassment complaints committee, which are due to be published on Tuesday March 23.

He said the last few weeks in Holyrood had been “really horrible” as Conservative MSPs had shown a “determination to damage not just the SNP but actually to damage the Scottish Parliament”.

READ MORE: Michael Russell: Boorish Scottish Tories imitating Trump with attacks on FM

Russell said this came from the fact that the Tories are “absolutely hostile to the idea of the Scottish Parliament having any power or having any discretion”.

Adam Tomkins (below), a Scottish Tory MSP who will be standing down at the May elections, previously told the BBC show he was “really worried about the state of the Scottish parliament”.

The National:

Russell said the parliamentary inquiry into the handling of harassment complaints should have been about “facing the truth”, but instead claimed the “Tories and others have damaged that”.

Russell also claimed that the leaking of the alleged conclusions of that committee, that Nicola Sturgeon broke the ministerial code but did not do so knowingly, had been a political move to damage the First Minister.

He added: “We don’t know anything about the other conclusions of the report, and some of the members of the committee have been very keen to talk in public about that one issue, about the one issue of Nicola Sturgeon, not about the wider issues, not about the women.”

Russell said the Tories had been engaged in the Trump-like cry of “lock her up” for weeks. He said this was “focused on an individual and focused on undermining the Scottish Parliament, it is utterly discreditable”.

READ MORE: Adam Tomkins MSP panned for ‘contemptible’ attack on SNP's John Swinney

Tomkins said that his Tory party did not see a need to wait for the details of the committee’s report before calling for the First Minister’s resignation as there was already “overwhelming” evidence that Sturgeon had misled parliament.

He claimed that the issue of whether Sturgeon had “knowingly” misled parliament or not was “dancing on pinheads about adverbs”.

Tomkins said the Conservatives would do “what’s right, and what’s right is that if a minister breaks the ministerial code, they’re held to account by the Scottish Parliament”.

Tomkins was asked what his statements meant for his colleagues in Westminster, where Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been repeatedly accused of breaking the ministerial code in recent weeks.

Home Secretary Priti Patel was also found to have broken the ministerial code amid bullying allegations in 2020, but the Tories took no action.

Tomkins claimed talking about his colleagues in Westminster was “SNP deflection”. He said the London Tories were not undermining his argument as the argument was about “Scottish politics”.