SCOTTISH ministers have not ruled out taking legal action if the UK Government refuses to hand over the powers to hold a second independence referendum.

Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP conference in Aberdeen that she will seek a so-called Section 30 order in the coming weeks.

But Downing Street has insisted the referendum in 2014 was a "once in a generation" event. 

Speaking to the BBC, Ms Sturgeon refused to rule out a legal challenge if Boris Johnson rebuffs her request. 

She said: "I'm going to take things step by step. If and when we reach that bridge I will come and talk to you and set out how I intend to cross it."

Brexit Secretary Mike Russell insisted legal action "cannot be ruled out". 

He was asked whether the courts could step in during a fringe meeting at the SNP conference.

He said: "I do think we're seeing an interesting period.

"For a long time it appeared in constitutional jurisprudence wasn't something that we tended to rely on."

"Now we're beginning to see the development of certain things taking place, so I don't know.

"It cannot be ruled out."