MICHAEL Moore yesterday demanded an "honest debate" from the SNP, claiming the recent row over EU legal advice showed the Nationalists were out of touch with reality.

The Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary said the controversy had exposed SNP politicians playing "fast and loose with Scotland's future to meet their own narrow ends".

Addressing the Scottish LibDem conference in Dunfermline, Moore used the row to imply the SNP were dishonest.

He said: "Within the UK, Scotland benefits from membership of the European Union. So it's no surprise that Nationalists want us to believe that a separate Scotland would inherit automatic membership on present terms.

"But there is no firm basis for that claim. We know there is no membership mechanism for a seceding state. We know there are no guarantees about automatic entry, nor the terms Scotland would inherit. And we know there was never any legal advice to shore up the Nationalists' claims.

"When one minister says they have called in the lawyers, and another says that they are yet to do so, they can't both be right. We can't have debate conducted on these terms."

He said the public had a right to know the facts on a range of key issues ahead of the biggest political decision they would ever take.

"Scots have a right to know what independence really means for them, their family, their community – our nation. There is no automatic entry to the EU, or Nato.

"There is no sterling zone or national seat on the Monetary Policy Committee. There is no Scottish reserve that could bail out the banks in the way that the Treasury did.

"The Nationalists say they want a positive campaign. But to get there, first they must set aside the assertions and begin to embrace reality."

In contrast, he said the UK Government research would spell out the facts on the benefits of the Union to Scotland and "put them up in lights".

The SNP said the real threat to Scottish membership of the EU was not independence, but Eurosceptic Tories in coalition with the LibDems.

MSP Christina McKelvie said: "For Michael Moore to stand up and claim that Scotland's EU membership would be jeopardised by independence – when he is tied in coalition with the Tories whose MPs and members are queuing up to demand the UK's complete withdrawal from the EU – is patently absurd. Michael Moore and the LibDems have no more credibility on Scotland in Europe than they do on tuition fees – which is to say none whatsoever.

"The fact that Mr Moore's Tory coalition partners are so hell-bent on ripping the UK out of Europe makes the case for Scottish independence even stronger."