THE Scottish Greens co-leaders have described a de facto referendum as a “last ditch” attempt to secure independence.

This follows the UK Supreme Court ruling which said the Scottish Parliament could not legislate for an independence referendum without Westminster’s consent.

Nicola Sturgeon has previously said she wants to use the next UK General Election as a “de facto” referendum where the SNP will make it clear they are campaigning on the sole issue of independence.

The party is set to hold a special conference to agree what would be in their manifesto for that election.

READ MORE: Scottish Greens: 2022 showed value of speaking truth to power

In an interview with The Scotsman, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater said that a victory for pro-independence parties would mean the UK Government would need to negotiate the terms for an independent Scotland or it would show “the UK is no longer a democracy”.

Harvie told the newspaper: “If we are left with a de-facto referendum as the only option, that is in place of the referendum that we ought to have, that we deserve to have, that we have a right to have.

“It’s not about triggering another one, it’s about answering the question.”

He continued: “The will of the people of Scotland needs to be asserted democratically. If an election is the only way of doing that, then that’s the last ditch.

“If that’s the only option they leave us and we take through that process and they ignore the result, then the UK is no longer a democracy.”

In December, the Sunday National revealed that white papers on Scottish independence would still be published.

This came after John Swinney announced the £20 million allocated for a referendum will instead be used to support vulnerable people against soaring bills.

Elsewhere, Slater accused unionist parties of “cowardice” and said that “they have to provide a framework for us”.

She told The Scotsman: “They don’t want to talk about the Union. They know we have a better story to tell and so they do the only thing they can, which is block the referendum.

“They should have the courage of their convictions. If they think the Union is so great, they should come up and debate with us on it.”