THE SNP has branded its exclusion from ITV’s general election television debate a “democratic disgrace” as it prepares for a court battle today.

Ian Blackford, the party’s Westminster leader, said the issue was about fairness – as he made another public appeal for donations to help raise £50,000 to fund the legal fight.

It came as he insisted Scottish independence is “unstoppable” and will not be blocked by either Boris Johnson or Jeremy Corbyn.

Yesterday, Mr Corbyn once again ruled out holding another independence referendum before the Holyrood elections in 2021.

ITV’s debate on Tuesday will be a head-to-head between Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson.

But the SNP and Liberal Democrats argue this is unfair and have both launched court actions in London.

Mr Blackford said the legal challenge is not just about the SNP, adding: “It’s about fairness for every voter and viewer across the country who have a right to see the real choice at this election on that debate stage.”

He said: “By excluding key parties from the debate, viewers are being deprived of the opportunity to make their own decisions, and voters in Scotland are not seeing their voting patterns reflected at all.

“People in Scotland voted Remain in 2016 and overwhelmingly backed the SNP as their party of choice in the European Elections.

“Polls show around 50 per cent of voters support independence and more than that back Scotland’s right to choose our own future. These key positions at the election won’t be heard on that platform if the SNP is not represented.

“Labour and the Tories have not been the leading parties in Scotland at an election for around a decade, while the SNP has grown to become the third party in UK wide politics.

“It is simply false to tell viewers in Scotland that that is their choice when we know Scotland has repeatedly rejected both in recent elections and the SNP could well hold the balance of power on the 13th December.

“For those who want to support our call for fairness, not just for the SNP but for all parties there is still an opportunity to donate to this case and to back a debate that gives the viewer and the voter what they want.”

The SNP cited research funded by ITV which previously showed television debates draw in viewers who aren’t otherwise interested in politics and are yet to make up their minds.

A third of viewers in 2015 used the debates to assess how a hung parliament would work and how parties would co-operate.

Elsewhere, Mr Blackford told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show that neither Mr Corbyn nor Mr Johnson could stand in the way of a second independence referendum.

Mr Corbyn has ruled out another referendum in the early years of a Labour government, but has left the door open to holding one at a later date.

However, Mr Johnson has insisted he will never agree to another referendum. The SNP want to hold a second vote in the latter half of next year.

Mr Blackford said: “It doesn’t matter if it’s Jeremy Corbyn or if it’s anyone else – whoever is Prime Minister has got to respect democracy, and the simply fact of the matter is that the SNP won the election to the Scottish Parliament in 2016 on a manifesto commitment of a referendum if there is a change in circumstances.

“Now, we won the election in 2017 to Westminster. We won the European election this year. And all the polls are suggesting that we are the party that can defeat the Tories in Scotland in this election.

“If we win that election, and it’s on the promise that we will allow the people of Scotland to choose their own future, it would ill-behold any Prime Minister to stand in the face of democracy and the right of Scots to choose.”

He added: “The Scots are a thrawn bunch. If you’re going to tell them that your votes don’t count, then I think that puts us into a very dangerous situation.

“At the end of the day, whether it’s Jeremy Corbyn, whether it’s Boris Johnson, they are going to have to respect the right of Scotland to choose it’s future.

“They may say no today, but once we’re on other side of the election – let’s wait and see.

“At the end of the day it’s about what’s right.”

He continued: “The polls are showing that more people in Scotland believe they’d be better off with independence, and we can create that fairer society, take responsibility for climate change.

“That move towards Scottish independence is unstoppable, it will not change whether there is a Corbyn or a Johnson government in London.”

Mr Blackford blamed Tory austerity for the fact one in four people - approximately one million - live in poverty in Scotland, calling for a commission to look at how to tackle the issue of inequality across the UK.

Meanwhile, Nicola Sturgeon used a column in the Sunday National newspaper to repeat her argument that Scottish independence is necessary even if the UK remains in the EU.

The First Minister wrote: “There comes a time where we have to ensure that we can choose our own future.

“Because even if there is a second EU referendum – and even if the UK doesn’t leave - the risk is that Brexit will continue to consume UK politics for years to come.

“Nigel Farage, Arron Banks et al are not simply going to shrug their shoulders and go home.

“The lesson of the last three years is that if you allow others to decide your future for you, you get ignored.”

Scottish Brexit Secretary Mike Russell will begin a campaign tour across the country today, arguing that only a vote for the SNP will “stop the Tories”.

Last night, he said: “With just 24 days to go till the general election only a vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit, lock the Tories out of Downing Street, reject austerity, and put Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.

“Scotland is a crucial battleground in this election and the battle to stop Brexit, and as Scotland’s party of remain the SNP is the number one challenger in every single Tory seat in Scotland.

“With Boris Johnson now in the pocket of Nigel Farage and Donald Trump it is all the more important that we stop the Tories in their tracks.

“Over the next four weeks I will be holding town hall meetings across the country to take our message to every corner of Scotland.”