RISHI Sunak has “absolutely no intention” of letting a second independence referendum go ahead - despite having previously said it should take place after Brexit.

We exclusively revealed this week how the Tory leadership contender said in 2017 that the timing of indyref2 should be pushed back until Brexit has passed, adding that a “good deal” would strengthen the Union case.

Sunak currently has the most backers in the race to be the next Prime Minister, but it is understood his lack of campaigning on the Union issue has disappointed Scottish Tories.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon launches second independence paper on 'renewal'

Failed leadership contenders Sajid Javid and Jeremy Hunt had both ruled out a referendum for a decade in the first days of the campaign, while Sunak has remained relatively quiet.

On Thursday, as First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched the second independence whitepaper, setting out the democratic deficit compounded by Westminster rule and the threat to devolution, she said she was open to negotiation over indyref2 - but will not compromise on the principle.

Referencing The National’s front page, the FM said: “Well, it’s after Brexit so maybe, if he is to hold to what he said before, there may be some room for discussions there if he emerges as the winner which, based on events over the past 24 hours, I don’t think is in any way certain,” she said.”

The FM insisted she would not “allow Scottish democracy to be the prisoner of a UK prime minister”.

The National: Sunak has rolled back on comments he made in 2017 that indyref2 should be held after BrexitSunak has rolled back on comments he made in 2017 that indyref2 should be held after Brexit

Responding to her comments, a spokesperson for the Ready for Rishi campaign told The Times: “Rishi has absolutely no intention of holding another divisive independence referendum.

“Our economic response to the pandemic, including the protection of millions of jobs through the furlough scheme, and the recent interventions Rishi made as chancellor to help households with the cost of living, are evidence of the importance of working together to solve the collective challenges our United Kingdom faces.

“We must all focus on rebuilding our economy to ensure that the next generation of British people have more opportunities than the last.”

READ MORE: Furious Unionist politicians tell Nicola Sturgeon to 'give it a rest' over independence

In 2017, Sunak said: "It seems hard to block a referendum but we should push the timing until after Brexit so the choice is clearer for people. A good deal will strengthen the case for the Union.”

It comes as it was revealed that Boris Johnson is backing “anyone but” Sunak to take over as PM.

The FM was asked on Thursday if she would be willing to compromise over indyref2 with whoever becomes the next Prime Minister.

She said: “So in principle, yes in terms of the detail I will be open to negotiation and in any negotiation you have to be prepared to compromise.

READ MORE: Indyref2 blueprint sets out ideological chasm between Holyrood and Westminster

“What I would not compromise on is the principle of people in Scotland getting the opportunity to cast their vote and make their views known on independence.”

The 58-page independence prospectus, the second to be released by the Scottish Government, set out the two different paths that lie ahead for Scotland - one under Westminster rule and the other through independence.

The report sets out that there are no legal protections for devolution, and the numerous ways the current Tory government has tried to legislate in these areas.

You can read a brief overview of the main points in the document here.