GREEN MSPs would not automatically vote for a second referendum in a hung parliament, despite the party advocating independence, it emerged yesterday.

Instead, the public could be asked whether they wanted a referendum, rather than having one imposed on them by political parties.

The mechanism would be a mass petition or “Citizens’ Initiative” on the issue - essentially a referendum on whether to stage a referendum.

If there was public support for a referendum, then the Greens would back one at Holyrood, but if not, the party would withhold support, potentially denying the SNP the votes to hold one.

The scenario was laid out at the Scottish Green conference in Glasgow, where MSP Patrick Harvie said he was against any back-room deals between the SNP and Greens.

He told delegates: “The question of independence may well be put again, but let's say that the people of Scotland are in charge of that.

“We propose a citizens' initiative so that it is the public who say when they are ready for that question to be put, not political parties carving up a deal behind closed doors."

Under an EU Citizens' Initiative, 1m signatures on a petition can trigger new legislation.