A SENIOR Labour frontbencher has wrongly claimed that the Scottish Government is planning an "illegal referendum". 

Speaking in Westminster, shadow Commons leader Thangam Debbonaire described the First Minister's plans for a second independence vote as an “illegal referendum in Scotland”.

"Nicola Sturgeon announced plans to go through the courts to try and hold an illegal referendum," she told MPs.

She added: “The First Minister gave the game away in her statement to the Scottish Parliament. It seems it wasn’t about a referendum, it was about the next General Election.

“Nicola Sturgeon seems to be happy for the 700,000 people on an NHS waiting list in Scotland to take a back seat while constitutional debates take precedence for the SNP.”

She added: “But I notice the striking similarities with the Conservative Westminster government who want to make the next election all about cultural wedge issues.

“The best way to protect and strengthen the UK is clearly a Labour government that delivers for every nation and region of our country.

“The SNP has no greater asset in their attempt to break up the UK than the Prime Minister. Does the Leader really think that propping up this failed Prime Minister is helping the Union?”

While making her announcement on Tuesday, Sturgeon was clear that she was not planning an illegal referendum.

She emphasised plans for an “indisputably lawful” referendum to take place, explaining that's why she referred the Independence Referendum Bill to the Supreme Court.

READ MORE: Supreme Court independence referendum case: Next steps explained

Sturgeon said a judicial determination will prevent doubt being cast on the legal basis for a referendum, and if the court decided holding the vote was outwith Holyrood powers she would use the next election as a de-facto referendum.

On Wednesday, the First Minister hit back against suggestions that her indyref would be illegal during an interview with the BBC.

“If you lost in the Supreme Court, and they say you can’t call a referendum without the UK Government agreeing to it, what happens then?” presenter Jon Kay asked. “Would you consider having a referendum, going it alone, having an advisory referendum or vote of some kind?”

Sturgeon scoffed before telling him. “I would have hoped before interviewing me this morning you would have actually read what I said yesterday."

The National:

As he began to interrupt her, the SNP chief responded: “No, no, no, no, no, no.

“Can you please listen to me? Because if you read what I said yesterday you would know the answer to that question.

“What we are proposing is just actually as it was in 2014. A consultative, advisory referendum. That’s what referendums are in the UK.

“What we are seeking through the reference to the Supreme Court is to establish whether the Scottish Parliament can lawfully hold even an advisory referendum. I am not going to move forward with a referendum that is unlawful.”