A BBC report on Nicola Sturgeon’s shelf-life has exposed simmering tensions in the SNP, with one minister accusing MPs of “stirring the pot” and undermining independence.

Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf said a “couple” of the party’s MPs were “trying to disrupt” and doing the Yes movement “no good whatsoever”.

One MP said it was a "matter of events" whether the SNP leader survived for long.

The attack followed a BBC Radio 4 and online report titled “How secure is Nicola Sturgeon’s position as SNP leader?” by political correspondent Nick Eardley.

It quoted Western Isles SNP MP Angus MacNeil's decidedly underwhelming support for Ms Sturgeon when asked about her prospects as leader.

He said: "I suppose that's maybe a matter for events and Nicola Sturgeon - who knows?

"What I'm concentrating on is not so much the personalities involved but it's the issue of independence."

Mr MacNeil also criticised Ms Sturgeon’s lack of a strategy for overcoming Boris Johnson block on a legal second independence referendum.

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He said: “If it was me, I'd have a different strategy; I would have Nicola Sturgeon's strategy and I'd also have another strategy in parallel so that when something was to hit the brick wall, there was something else to go with it."

Mr MacNeil has advocated a ‘Plan B’ on independence for some time, saying an SNP election win should be enough to trigger independence negotiations.

The BBC report also quoted an unnamed SNP parliamentarian saying Ms Sturgeon would look “stupid” if there was no Indyref2 this year after she had talked it up so much.

The First Minister has continued to claim Indyref2 is possible in late 2020, despite there being no tangible mechanism for achieving it.

Other SNP sources said Ms Sturgeon might have to “fall on her own sword” this summer after the Alex Salmond trial.

A Holyrood inquiry is also poised to investigate her role in a separate, bungled Scottish Government probe into Mr Salmond which cost taxpayers £500,000.

In the BBC report, East Lothian SNP MP Kenny MacAskill said there was no challenge to Ms Sturgeon’s leadership “at the present moment”, but “you never say never in politics”.

He said: “We're comfortable with Nicola's leadership. We'll see what happens but she still has a lot of fuel in the tank.”

Responding to the item on Twitter this morning, Mr Yousaf wrote: “An absolute load of baloney. Independence at 50% - in some polls even higher -we have just won another election & support for the SNP miles ahead of opposition.

“The couple of MPs stirring the pot & trying to disrupt are doing themselves & the Independence cause no good whatsoever.”

Glasgow SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter, Ms Sturgeon's long-time constituency assistant, also took to Twitter, referring to "folk sounding off in the press who really ought to know better".

Glasgow South SNP MP Stewart McDonald suggested sexism was a factor in the BBC report.

He tweeted: “We won 80% of Scotland’s seats at WM less than 12 weeks ago.

“The FM has won every national election since becoming SNP leader

“Polling for independence is higher than its ever been and is growing.

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“If a man had these achievements under his belt they’d be singing his name.”

Mr Eardley stood for the Scottish Socialist Party in the council election of 2007.

Scottish Tory deputy leader Annie Wells said: “Nicola Sturgeon deserves to be under pressure for her disastrous performance on domestic matters.

“Under 13 years of SNP control, areas like health, education and the economy have suffered badly. Her SNP government has driven vital public services into the ground.

“It’s not just Nicola Sturgeon who should be on notice – the entire SNP operation should be in jeopardy.”

A spokesperson for the SNP said: "The SNP has won the last five parliamentary elections in a row in Scotland - two at Holyrood and three at Westminster - and recent polling shows us 20 points ahead of our nearest opponents.

"Meanwhile, support for independence is at an all-time high, while other parties flounder and struggle to make any ground at all.

"That is a commanding position and one that our opponents can only dream of. We take absolutely nothing for granted, and will continue to work hard to retain the trust of the people of Scotland."