DIVISIONS among independence supporters about the timing of a second referendum have surfaced within the SNP’s Westminster group.

Just days after the party’s longest-serving MP urged a cautious and “pragmatic” approach, one of his senior colleagues said he wanted a referendum by the end of next year.

Angus Brendan MacNeil, who has been the MP for Na h-Eileanan an Iar since 2005, publicly endorsed a new vote within 18 months.

Despite polls showing most Scots opposed to a referendum, he said that once a date was set “energy and enthusiasm will begin”.

READ MORE: Yes supporters "turning in on themselves", Sillars admits

The call for action was in sharp contrast to Perth & North Perthshire MP Pete Wishart, who recently warned Nationalists not to go prematurely into a referendum they might lose.

Mr Wishart said the Yes movement should be as “pragmatic as possible” and needed to build a new case for independence that could persuade those who voted No in 2014.

He said there was not enough support for a second referendum, and the impact of Brexit on voter opinion was unpredictable, although an early referendum “might” still be winnable.

Another defeat would set back the independence cause “decades”, he warned.

He was called defeatist and an “Etonian boot licker” by fellow Yes supporters as a result.

READ MORE: Yes supporters "turning in on themselves", Sillars admits

Mr MacNeil made his statement after running a poll on Twitter asking people whether a second referendum should be held using the SNP’s current mandate within 18 months, after 18 months but before the 2021 Holyrood election, or after 2021 with a new mandate.

More than 5000 people voted, with 66 per cent backing within 18 months, 22 per cent later but before 2021, and only 12 per cent backing after the 2021 election.

Mr MacNeil tweeted: “I voted with the 66% but notable that 88% wish to see #indyref2 happen in this Scot Parl ie by 2021.

“Nothing will happen on #indyref2 until there is a date to focus on... then like #indyref1 the energy and enthusiasm will begin. I have been hearing chat of campaign for last 2 years but didn't happen as not date for an aim.”

READ MORE: Yes supporters "turning in on themselves", Sillars admits

Nicola Sturgeon called for a second referendum in March 2017 but “reset” her plans after the SNP lost a third of its MPs in the June election, and is due to update MSPs “on the precise timescale for offering people a choice over the country’s future” in the autumn.