ALEX Salmond has been denounced for using “bullyboy tactics” after the former First Minister insisted that, despite the No vote last September, a second independence referendum in Scotland was now inevitable.

The MP for Gordon stressed three issues were “moving things towards” another poll: the failure by David Cameron to deliver fully on the Vow of more powers for Holyrood; the possibility of Scotland voting to stay in the EU and England voting to pull out and Chancellor George Osborne’s continuing cuts agenda.

“A second independence referendum is inevitable,” declared the former party leader. “The question is not the inevitability, it's the timing and that is very much in the hands of Nicola Sturgeon.”

He added: "Instead of getting devo to the max we're getting austerity to the max and that divergent view of what's right in social terms between Scotland and England is another issue which is moving things towards another referendum."

But Alex Johnstone for the Scottish Conservatives said: "With Alex Salmond's bullyboy tactics he's determined to force independence on Scottish people by hook or by crook.

"However, the former First Minister can moan, haggle and make all the idle threats he wants, it won't change the fact that the majority of Scots voted No last September.”

Labour’s Ian Murray claimed Mr Salmond's priorities were “all wrong”.

“Today's newspapers are full of stories about failures by the SNP Government; from a £1 billion GP funding cut to chaos at the heart of Police Scotland.”

The Shadow Scottish Secretary added: “Instead of obsessing about a re-run of a vote that took place less than a year ago, the SNP should focus on cleaning up the mess they have made of Scotland's public services."

Tavish Scott for the Scottish Liberal Democrats noted that while Ms Sturgeon was adamant the decision on a second referendum was down to the people of Scotland, Mr Salmond believed it was down to her.

"Salmond it appears is trying to decide policy from the sidelines,” claimed the MSP.

Meantime, David Mundell today reiterates his call for the First Minister to “come clean” on whether or not she will include a commitment to hold a second referendum in the SNP’s 2016 Holyrood manifesto.

Answering a parliamentary written question, the Scottish Secretary made clear that given leading Yes campaigners like Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond had given “clear and repeated commitments” that the 2014 vote was a once in a lifetime opportunity, then “my Department has not prepared contingency plans for the possibility of a further referendum being the policy of the Scottish Government after the Scottish Parliament election in 2016”.

There is widespread expectation that at the SNP conference in October Ms Sturgeon will announce that the party manifesto will include a commitment to keep the option open of a second poll in the next five years.

At Westminster, George Kerevan, the SNP MP for East Lothian, said the issue of another referendum was a hot topic among colleagues and could not be ignored.

“The best thing would be for the leadership to come forward with some proposals on how to deal with it. It cannot be left until the campaigning season is well under way. We need clarity,” he added.