ANGUS Robertson has insisted that an independence referendum will be held next year.

The SNP Constitution Secretary made the pledge when he was asked about the £20 million that has been set aside for a vote in the Scottish Government’s Resource Spending Review.

Nicola Sturgeon has committed to having a referendum by the end of 2023, with a view of Scotland becoming independent in 2026.

READ MORE: Scottish Tory calls for 'indyref2 plans to be scrapped' fall flat in Holyrood

The First Minister has also said she will pass a referendum bill through Holyrood regardless of whether the UK Government permits a plebiscite or not.

It is highly likely that any law passed through Holyrood for a referendum would be challenged in the UK Supreme Court.

In an evidence session with the Constitution, Europe, External Affairs and Culture Committee, Robertson and Finance Secretary, Kate Forbes, were asked outright if they thought a referendum would take place before the end of 2023. 

Donald Cameron, the Conservative spokesperson on constitutional affairs asked about what he described as the “vexed question of spending on the independence referendum”. 

He said: “I don't think this is the correct time or forum to talk about the rights and wrongs of that, and I don't expect we'll agree on this, but can I ask you, just as a matter of fact, do you think a referendum will happen by the end of 2023?”

Forbes replied: “That is the intention, and certainly that is what we're working towards.”

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However, Robertson took issue with Cameron’s use of the word “vexed”. 

He said: “Is somebody reasonably suggesting that having Scottish parliamentary elections is a vexed question? I hope not. Are UK parliamentary elections are vexed question? Of course it's not. 

“These are democratic votes and as a democrat I respect the results of the Scottish Parliament elections last year that elected a majority of parliamentarians to this parliament. 

“The people voted for this, that there should be a vote and a vote there should be and the government has set out its timetable.”

Robertson was also asked if the funding set aside for the referendum would be re-allocated in the case of a change to the timetable of the vote.

“We're going to have a referendum,” Robertson replied.