A snap Scottish independence poll after a Brexit vote would be undesirable, a senior SNP figure has insisted.

Humza Yousaf, the Scottish Government’s transport minister, has made clear that, personally, he would not like a second referendum on Scotland’s future in such circumstances, noting how it would “make the argument for independence very difficult”.

The SNP MSP, said to be close to First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, is the first senior Nationalist figure to come out so strongly against a quick post-Brexit independence referendum.

His view is in stark contrast with some of his colleagues, who believe the Scottish Government should move “while the iron is hot”.

Ahead of the May elections, the SNP manifesto said Holyrood should “have the right” to hold a second referendum if there were “clear and sustained evidence” that most Scots wanted one or if there were a material change in circumstances compared to 2014.

Alex Salmond, the former party leader and FM, believes that if Scotland voted to stay in the EU on June 23 but the UK opted for Brexit, then this would provide such a material change needed to call a second poll. Yesterday, he pointed to a mandate for such a move in the General Election and in the Holyrood election.

But last month a poll showed a majority of people – 48 per cent to 44 per cent – said they did not want a second independence referendum if Scotland was taken out of Europe against its will.

Thus far, Ms Sturgeon has been cautious, making clear that there would have to be a clear groundswell of Scottish opinion over a number of months for her to contemplate calling for a second poll.

However, she also admitted last month that she expected to lead Scotland into a second poll and onwards to independence. Asked if she expected a second referendum within her premiership, she replied: “Do I think it’s more likely than not? Yes.”

Mr Yousaf, who represents Glasgow Pollok, was asked in an interview on the BBC Radio’s Today programme about the prospect of a second independence poll on the back of a Brexit vote on June 23.

“I would not like that scenario to play out. I would not like Scotland to vote to stay in and the rest of the UK to drag Scotland out of the EU,” he said, admitting: “It may well precipitate demand for a second referendum; I don’t doubt that it would.”

When it was suggested that a second independence poll was what the SNP wanted, the minister stressed: “The people will decide when another referendum comes forward.”

But he then added: “I do not want a referendum in those circumstances. It makes the argument for independence very difficult as well. It presents us with some additional difficulties and some additional challenges.”