A FORMER SNP minister has been accused of the “the height of irresponsibility” after backing an unofficial independence referendum.

Kenny MacAskill said another electoral victory for the SNP would provide legitimacy for a “consultative vote” if Scotland continues to be denied the power to hold a second referendum.

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Writing in The Scotsman, the ex-justice secretary said: “Neither an election nor citizens' assemblies suffice, only a plebiscite will ultimately do.

“But if a referendum is refused then action needs taken. Another electoral mandate would ramp up the pressure, providing legitimacy for a consultative vote and further exposing Westminster. ‘Back in your box, Jock’ simply isn't acceptable.

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“In politics as in physics, for every action there's an equal and opposite reaction. If the UK won't negotiate, Scotland has the right to act.”

It comes after two senior SNP figures argued the party winning a majority of seats in the next Westminster or Holyrood elections would be enough to start independence negotiations.

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Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil and Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny have submitted a resolution for debate at the SNP conference in October on an alternative independence plan.

Both Jeremy Hunt and Boris Johnson have set their face against granting Holyrood the power to hold a second independence referendum if they become Prime Minister.

Mr MacAskill insisted “alternatives have to be sought” in the face of such intransigence.

But Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “Talking up the prospect of a Catalan-style wildcat referendum is the height of irresponsibility; if there ever was to be another contest then it must be carried out legally and fairly.

“Trying to get independence through the back door is simply not acceptable.

“And let’s be clear, the majority of people in Scotland do not want another divisive independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon must immediately rule out these irresponsible proposals being put forward by senior nationalists, stop playing constitutional games, and start listening to the people of Scotland.”