SCOTLAND’S constitution minister has said the case for a second ­independence referendum is backed by a key pledge of the Good Friday agreement – and there should be no need to fight to hold another vote in court.

Angus Robertson said the 1998 agreement in Northern Ireland ­included a commitment to hold a ­border poll on uniting the country if a majority of voters backed it.

And the Scottish people have shown their support for another vote by electing the SNP government in May this year, he said.

In an interview with The Times, he also pointed out the Good Friday agreement had specified a seven-year period between one vote and the next.

“I observe that the distance ­between 2014 [the date of the last ­independence referendum] and 2021 is seven years,” he added.

Robertson said the 2014 Edinburgh agreement which led to the first ­independence referendum set a ­precedent and there should be no need to fight the case for another vote in the courts.

He said: “I hope the issue of the ­referendum ends with the ­recognition by the UK Government that people have voted for [it] and to respect that vote, given that the UK is a voluntary union.”

He added: “We are working on a timetable of holding a referendum in the course of 2023, and that is what I intend to do as cabinet secretary for the constitution.”

Robertson, who has written a book about Vienna, said an independent Scotland would play a leading role in Europe and act as bridge between the UK, Scandinavia and the EU.

“I look forward to Scotland learning the lessons of what a reimagined small country with a significant ­capital in Vienna has managed to do, which is to emerge beyond the ­history, both good and bad, to ­redefine the city as it is in the 21st century,” he said.

Earlier this month a Supreme Court ruling that Holyrood had legislated beyond its powers over two bills on children’s rights and ­local government laws led to claims it would “torpedo” any bid to organise a referendum without Westminster’s consent.

The Scottish Government said plans to ensure a “legitimate and ­constitutional referendum” can be held within this Parliamentary term – and within the first half if the Covid crisis is over – remain unchanged.