ONE of the most prominent Yes campaigners of 2014 has said he would refuse to vote for independence in another referendum if it meant Scotland re-joining the EU after Brexit.

Former SNP deputy leader Jim Sillars said he would abstain in such circumstances and believed many of the party’s supporters would do likewise.

“I do not want to be run by an unelected, self-serving elite,” he told the Herald.

Mr Sillars first revealed his intention in a BBC Radio 4 documentary broadcast on Monday.

A pro-Brexit campaigner, Mr Sillars said making a second referendum about EU membership would be a “big mistake” and alienate SNP supporter, a third of whom voted Leave in 2016.

He said: “I, for example, could not vote Yes if on the ballot paper it said, ‘We wish the Scottish state to be a member of the European Union’, and I’m not alone in that.”

Within hours of the Brexit vote, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland being taken out of the EU against its will - a scenario set out in the SNP manifesto - had made a referendum “highly likely”.

The First Minister is widely expected to announce a further step towards a second referendum when she addresses SNP activists at her party’s spring conference next week.

Speaking to the Herald about his remarks, Mr Sillars said: “I did not vote to come out the EU to go back in. I think that would apply to a good number of the estimated 400,000 Yes voters who voted Leave. I imagine they would abstain.”

He said a vote for leaving the UK only to return to the EU would not be a vote for genuine independence because of a recent “massive transfer of sovereignty” to Brussels.

Mr Sillars, 79, served as deputy SNP leader under Alex Salmond in the early 1990s.

Warning Ms Sturgeon against an early referendum, he said: "I cannot conceive of the Yes movement winning in 2018 in the middle of [Brexit] negotiations. We would be subject to the cry from Westminster, ‘Why don’t you wait to see what the deal is?’”

Pro-Brexit Tory MSP Ross Thomson said: “This is a stark reminder for Nicola Sturgeon not to ignore more than 1m people in Scotland who voted to leave the EU. The First Minister should remember that next time she embarks on another Brexit rant.”

Labour’s Lewis Macdonald said the comments were “deeply embarrassing” for Ms Sturgeon.

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: “The real test for Nicola Sturgeon is whether she will hold true to her pro-European beliefs or sell them out to get Jim Sillars and others back on board for another referendum. I suspect she will compromise on Europe before long."

An SNP spokesman said: “Jim Sillars is a longstanding and outspoken critic of the EU, and he is entitled to his view.”