A QUESTION Time audience member has hit back at the editor of the Spectator after he argued against a second independence referendum, saying “public opinion polling hasn’t changed much since 2014”.

During an episode of Question Time in Inverness, Fraser Nelson said a majority of people don’t want a referendum on the timetable announced by Nicola Sturgeon.

The topical debate show, hosted by Fiona Bruce, saw Nelson joined by Scottish Constitution Minister Angus Robertson, Tory MSP Craig Hoy, comedian Susie McCabe and Labour MSP Pam Duncan-Glancy.

The Spectator boss and Daily Telegraph columnist said Scots don't want another referendum.

He said: “I don’t think there will be a referendum for three reasons. First of all, there’s the legality of it. Nicola Sturgeon has gone to the Supreme Court, but the weight of legal opinion seems to be against her.

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“Secondly, you’ve got whether the SNP would win that or not. Most of the opinion polls would suggest not. They’re quite close.

“You get quite a lot of nationalists actually who don’t want this referendum, thinking you’d be crazy to have it unless you’re ahead in the opinion polls. If you lose twice, as they found out in Quebec, then that’s pretty bad for an independence movement."

But the biggest reason, Nelson said, "is because Scots simply don’t want one".

He went on: “We’ve had opinion polls, we’ve had another two this morning, showing the majority of people don’t want there to be a referendum in the timetable Nicola Sturgeon is talking about.

“Partly because SNP voters aren’t sure it’s a good idea but also because you’ve got a country that’s exhausted.

The National: Fraser Nelson said opinion polls showed Scots don't want a second independence referendum Fraser Nelson said opinion polls showed Scots don't want a second independence referendum (Image: BBC)

“The democratic vote of Scotland was given not so long ago in a referendum in 2014 and that was a vote to stay in the Union and there’s also the democratic right of people who don’t want to be put through this mill again and again and again especially when public opinion hasn’t really changed much since 2014.

“The polls show Scotland is pretty much where it was all those years ago so why take a vote in a country that doesn’t want it."

Nelson said he thinks the referendum is being pushed to keep the SNP base happy, adding: "They want to think that there’s a great battle around the corner.

“But really I think Boris Johnson might be tempted to call their bluff.”

The columnist said he doesn’t think the SNP “in its heart of hearts” wants to answer difficult questions on independence before saying “I’m not worried about a 2023 referendum”.

An audience member hit back at Nelson, saying: “We don’t run a country based on opinion polls and the SNP ran an election along with the Greens and the Unionist parties based on an electoral system set up by the British government under the Scotland Act.

“Under that act the proportional system returned a majority for an independence referendum. That is a fact.

“And it is our right under first article of the United Nations to choose how we determined the future of this country.

“Whether that’s every second minute or every thousand years that’s irrelevant.

“It’s not about being put through the mill and people who are maybe finding they are being put through the mill by being asked questions that are relatively simple maybe should disengage from the process overall because this is normal around the world.”

Earlier this week, Nicola Sturgeon announced plans for a second Scottish independence referendum on October 19 2023.

The vote’s legality will be determined by the Supreme Court in order to settle the argument about the Scottish Government’s right to hold a referendum.

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In the event the court rules the proposals are outside of the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament, the SNP have said the next general election will become “de facto referendum”.

The Scottish Government requires a Section 30 order to legally hold a referendum – but Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made clear this is not going to be granted.

Sturgeon said a judicial determination will prevent doubt being cast on the legal basis for a referendum.

Lord Advocate Dorothy Bain, the Scottish Government’s chief legal officer, has referred the matter to the Supreme Court.