MOST people don’t give "two hoots” about Scottish independence as they go about their lives, the SNP’s deputy leader at Westminster has said.

Kirsty Blackman, who is also her party’s economy spokesman in the Commons, said the constitution was a decidedly low priority for many voters.

Ms Blackman, 31, who was elected MP for Aberdeen North in 2015, made the comments in an interview with the Guardian, which said she was reluctant to discuss independence.

She told the newspaper: “I don’t think most folk in their daily lives give two hoots about whether Scotland is a member of the union.

“The constitutional issues are not the biggest concern for an awful lot of people and, in fact, I very rarely talk about Scottish independence in the chamber, because I talk about things that matter to the people of Aberdeen.”

After calling a second independence referendum in March, Nicola Sturgeon was forced to “reset” her plan when the SNP lost a third of its MPs in the snap general election.

She admitted it had “undoubtedly” been a factor in the SNP defeats, which included former leader Alex Salmond in Gordon and Westminster leader Angus Robertson in Moray.

The First Minister deferred a decision on the timing of another referendum until late 2018, while her party abandoned a drive to raise £1m for a fresh campaign.

Opposition parties said Ms Blackman had spoken the truth about voter fatigue on the issue.

A Scottish Conservative spokesman said: "This is a rare but welcome bit of self-awareness from an SNP politician.

"She is absolutely right to say that independence is of little interest to the vast majority of Scots who just want a government that gets on with the day job.

“It's to be hoped that this is a sign of things to come from the SNP in 2018."

Labour MSP James Kelly said: "It’s welcome to hear an SNP MP wanting to discuss matters other than the constitution. 

“Perhaps she could have a word with her colleagues in Holyrood, who have spent a decade in government neglecting public services while obsessed with breaking up the United Kingdom.”

Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson added: "People want to see real improvements to their lives. Instead of the SNP's endless obsession with independence, SNP ministers should focus on issues they have long neglected, such as ending the appalling long waits for mental health treatment and reversing the slipping performance of Scottish education."

Asked specifically about the comments on the constitution, an SNP spokesperson said: "As Kirsty Blackman rightly pointed out, people across the country face very real day-to-day concerns thanks to Tory mismanagement of the economy - with wages stagnant and bills rising. 

"Scotland will be better off having the real powers to tackle these issues - but in the meantime SNP MPs will continue to hold the UK government to account on their abject failures."

Ms Blackman’s constituency is the Westminster equivalent of the Holyrood seat of Aberdeen Donside, which is held by the SNP’s Mark McDonald.

Mr McDonald resigned as childcare minister in November amid allegations about his conduct and is currently the subject of a slow-moving sleaze investigation by SNP HQ.

Although Ms Blackman did not mention Mr McDonald by name, she said all efforts should be made to stamp out sexual harassment in politics and now rejected hugs in the workplace.

She said: “We have got this massive opportunity to change culture now.

“We can change culture in the House of Commons, we can change culture across society, if we take this opportunity – so I don’t think we should let this go quiet.

“I think there were a lot of people who came out and said: ‘We’ve got zero tolerance of this,’ and then it kind of fizzled a bit. I would like to see this stay on the agenda - I would like this to stay as something that we’re talking about on a regular basis.”

She added: “Somebody that I met, we had a conversation about whether or not they would give me a hug - and actually I don’t particularly want people to hug me. “If somebody goes to hug me and I don’t want them to hug me, I should say: ‘Excuse me, I’d rather shake hands.’

“If we keep talking about it when it comes to more minor things like hugging, then maybe they will check themselves and they will think more carefully before they lunge in and snog someone.”

Ms Blackman also said the SNP needed to “keep doing new and exciting things” after a decade in government.

She said: “Keeping interest in a political movement is difficult for all parties, and it’s something that every party grapples with. We need to keep doing new and exciting things; we need to keep being progressive. We need to continue being a competent party of government, and we need to keep giving people things to look forward to.”