NICOLA Sturgeon has been accused of “weaponising Brexit” after signalling that she would still push for a second independence referendum even if the UK stayed in the European Union.

In April, the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament that she wanted to hold a second referendum on independence by 2021 if the UK were taken out of the EU.

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Asked if a Remain vote in a second poll would remove the need for an imminent Scottish independence referendum, the First Minister told BBC 1’s Andrew Marr programme: "Not necessarily, no, because things are changing."

She explained: "We could be facing the prospect in the near future of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister, so the last thing I should be doing is narrowing Scotland's options.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “After all of the experience of the last three years, Scotland should have the opportunity to decide whether we want to become an independent European nation."

But Pamela Nash for the campaign group Scotland in Union, said the SNP leader’s words were another stark reminder that her “only priority is a divisive second independence referendum”.

Ms Nash said: "She is weaponising Brexit in a desperate bid to boost support for separation but admits she will push to break up the UK whatever happens.”

She added: "Nicola Sturgeon will never stop campaigning to divide us from our friends and families but there is a better future for Scotland as part of the UK."

Maurice Golden, the Scottish Conservatives Chief Whip, accused Ms Sturgeon of using Brexit as "a fig leaf to hide her only real priority" and claimed whether the UK was in or out of the EU, the FM’s answer would always be the same: independence.

"It is time for Scotland to move on from this endless uncertainty and to leave the division of the last decade behind us," he declared.

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Meanwhile, the FM also came under fire over the SNP’s plan to have “fundamental reform” of the hated Common Fisheries Policy if Scotland became independent and rejoined the EU post-Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon stressed how the Tory Government had misled Scottish fishermen and “almost conceded they would have to bargain around fishing rights to retain market access”.

But David Duguid, the Scottish Conservative MP for Banff and Buchan, accused the FM of the “same tired old scaremongering” about access to labour and markets.

He added: “She has no real interest in supporting Scotland’s fishermen and farmers. The SNP secretly want these key industries and communities to fail and suffer; only so they can they then blame it on the UK Government and push its agenda for independence.”