THE First Minister has said she does not want to be in the position of fighting a General Election on the sole issue of independence in the event the Supreme Court blocks indyref2.

Nicola Sturgeon admitted on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme she would prefer to see permission to hold a referendum granted but said the plan B strategy would be the only option if judges deny the Scottish Government permission for the ballot.

The risky strategy would mean pro-Yes parties would consider gaining at least 51% of the popular vote at the next General Election a "mandate" for independence.

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“I hope that the outcome of that [the Supreme Court case] will be that the Scottish Parliament can legislate for an advisory referendum in Scotland, which we would seek to have in October next year," she said. 

The National:

“So when we come to the General Election…after we have the Supreme Court judgement, if that’s the scenario we’re in – which I hope it isn’t – we’ll set this out in detail.

“But effectively, I will be saying to people, if you are concerned about our public services, if you’re concerned about Scotland’s ability to chart our own course in all of these issues, then this is your opportunity to say whether or not you want Scotland to be independent.”

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Challenged on whether broader issues of policy should be separated from the issue of independence, Sturgeon said she agreed they should but that the circumstances would change if the Scottish Government’s independence referendum was blocked.

'If we are forced into Plan B it's our only choice' 

“This is an alternative, I want a referendum,” she said. “But we’re only talking about the other scenario if, outrageously, the referendum route is blocked to Scotland, notwithstanding Scotland having voted for that.

“It’s not a scenario I want to be in but if we are forced into that scenario, the only alternative is to say to Scotland, well it doesn’t actually matter what you think, you’ve no choice at all and Westminster just blocks Scottish democracy and that’s just not something I’m going to countenance.”

She added: “That scenario only comes about if Westminster blocks Scottish democracy.

“We wouldn’t be in this position, we wouldn’t even have to be before the Supreme Court, if we had a Westminster government that accepted democracy, they put their case, they argued their case, as everybody has a right to do but accepted the principle that it is for the people of Scotland to decide.

“That’s the democratic, constitutional way to proceed.”

'SNP were elected on a mandate for an independence referendum'

Expressing her preference for a Supreme Court ruling in the Scottish Government’s favour, the First Minister added: “If we are talking about concern for voters in Scotland, which is always uppermost in my mind, then voters in Scotland elected me on a clear proposition to have a referendum.

“So what I am seeking to do, because I have always said that a referendum can only happen if it is legal and constitutional, we wouldn’t deliver independence in any other way.

The National:

“We are seeking, through the Supreme Court beyond any legal doubt that the Scottish Parliament can do that and that is the most important part of this.

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“I am seeking to treat voters in Scotland with respect, but I am also seeking to deliver on the mandate that they elected me with.

“Now, if all of that doesn’t happen as I want it to, the key point of principle for me is that there has to be another way for people in Scotland to express their views on independence, it can’t just be blocked in a democracy.”

When is the Supreme Court indyref2 case? 

The Supreme Court will hear next week the cases for and against the Scottish Parliament being allowed to pass a referendum bill which would see a second vote on Scotland’s future held on October 19 next year.

A verdict is expected in the winter though an exact date is not yet known for the decision.

The Scottish Government and the SNP – who have been allowed to intervene in the case as a separate entity – are arguing that a referendum is a human rights concern, citing the rights of people to self-determination.

The UK Government have said that a referendum on a reserved matter – the constitution – is reserved under the Scotland Act and it is legally within its powers to block a vote.