NICOLA Sturgeon has said she will give an update on the timing of another independence referendum in a “matter of weeks”, after again kicking the can down the road.

The First Minister, who said 10 days ago she hoped to set out the timing “very soon”, said her immediate priority was a People’s Vote on the EU.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly delayed her independence update because of Brexit.

In the wake of the SNP losing a third of its MPs and half a million votes in the last general election, she “reset” her plans for a referendum, putting them on hold for another year.

She said she would set out a “precise timescale” in the autumn of 2018, when Brexit was expected to have come into focus.

However the UK government’s delays and confusion over the process have seen her put off her own statement on numerous occasions, frustrating some in the Yes movement.

Last month Alex Salmond publicly questioned her committed to another referendum.

On his weekly TV show, her predecessor said the SNP appeared “unsure as to when, or even whither, to launch their Caledonian lifeboat” towards independence in Europe.

Ms Sturgeon was asked about the timing issue by the media as she visited Westminster to meet her MPs in the wake of the landslide defeat for Theresa May’s Brexit plan.

She said: “I will say more about the timing of a referendum in the next matter of weeks.

“I want to see the UK stay in the EU. It would be best for the whole of the UK.

“But even when Scotland is independent that serves our interests best as well.

“That’s why we are backing the People’s Vote. If that’s not impossible and even in terms of our wider interests the chaos and the fiasco of the last couple of years have shown the worst thing for Scotland is to be thirled [enslaved] to Westminster when it’s making such a mess of things. We’d be far better off in charge of our own destiny.”

She added later that she would set out the timing “at the appropriate moment”.

Asked if the various inquiries into her conduct and Mr Salmond in light of his judicial review win had set back her referendum timetable, she declared: “Not in the slightest, no.”

She added: “It’s not a situation I relish being in; that’s probably an understatement.

“There is a police inquiry underway and other inquiries being established and in those circumstances, the right thing to do is to allow those inquiries to do their job and not run the risk of interfering or prejudicing them in anyway.”

The Scottish Tories accused Ms Sturgeon of “grandstanding” as a distraction from her problems with Mr Salmond and SNP infighting.

MSP Maurice Golden said: “Once again, we see Nicola Sturgeon playing her usual political games… clearing calculating that grandstanding in Westminster might help distract people from her role in the Alex Salmond scandal.

“The First Minister who appears increasingly detached from reality. “No wonder the SNP MPs ordered to line up behind her in Westminster looked so fed up.

“Nicola Sturgeon also needs to explain exactly why she needed to be in London today. Was she there as First Minister? If so, why should the taxpayer stump up for a SNP media stunt?”

Scottish Labour MSP Neil Findlay said: “The last thing Scotland needs is more instability and chaos of yet another referendum.

"While the mess the Tories have made of Brexit shows how difficult leaving a political and economic union is, the answer to that is a General Election to break the deadlock and deliver a Labour government to end austerity and invest in our people and our communities."

Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: “Nicola Sturgeon is threatening another unwanted independence referendum when she should be focused on securing a people’s vote on Brexit. The SNP need to learn the lessons of Brexit. Breaking up is hard to do.”