THE Minister for independence and Alba’s Ash Regan clashed over referendum plans during a heated exchange in Holyrood.

Regan, who defected to Alex Salmond’s party from the SNP, challenged the Scottish Government on its lack of action around independence and claimed the five year parliamentary term will have been “wasted” under the current leadership.

The Edinburgh Eastern MSP, and former SNP leadership candidate, asked why ministers had so far refused to back her party’s plan to hold a referendum requesting further powers for the Scottish Parliament. 

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Jamie Hepburn fired back that he had not even seen the consultation results, never mind a final proposal, from Regan and defended his work promoting independence.

The furious exchange took place during General Questions on Thursday, shortly before FMQs.

Regan asked the Scottish Government that in light of the Supreme Court ruling that Holyrood did not have the competence to hold a legally binding referendum, why the Scottish Government’s position is “that there should not be a referendum at this stage on the powers of the Scottish Parliament?”

Hepburn (below) replied that the SNP won a mandate to hold a referendum on independence that “would lead to Scottish independence, rather than the referendum on the powers of the Scottish Parliament short of that”.

“For this reason, at this stage, we're not planning to hold such a referendum,” he added.

“When any proposal for such emerges we'll give it proper consideration.

The National:

“Through our Building a New Scotland series prospective papers, we continue to set out a positive case for independence as an alternative to the broken Brexit Britain now in recession supported by the Tories, Labour and Liberal Democrats.”

A visibly angered Regan pointed out that it has almost been 10 years since the 2014 independence referendum.

“With respect, Minister, papers can be produced by anyone - what the independence movement wants at this point is action,” she replied.

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“Time is of the essence and the government should embrace the opportunity to give Scots the power to tell the world that they want the Scottish Parliament to negotiate for and legislate for independence, and if they don't, this entire five-year parliamentary term will have been wasted.

“Perhaps the Minister can enlighten us - what is the point of a pro-independence majority if it is not used to pursue independence?”

Hepburn fired back: “Well, of course, that's exactly what we're doing, and with respect to Ms Regan, I have literally just said - and we don't even have a draft proposal with the consequential consultation, let alone a final proposal before this Parliament.

The National:

“But I have said when that emerges we will give it full consideration.”

The Independence Minister then pointed to the SNP manifesto, which he added Regan also stood for election on, which said there should be a referendum and the party has a “mandate that should be respected”.

He then pointed to a series of debates held in the Holyrood chamber on the white paper series, with discussions in previous months on a written constitution, migration, Scotland’s place in the EU and social security.

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“I know the member hasn't been able to take part in any of those debates yet,” he said to jeers from the SNP benches.

“But the good news is she and all members of this place will have the opportunity to do so in the future, because we're going to continue to take forward that work.”

We told how Hepburn and Regan clashed in January after the Minister said he had “no plans” to hold a referendum on extending Holyrood’s powers.