NICOLA Sturgeon has dismissed the notion that she may be stepping down as SNP leader and said radical ways of obtaining a second referendum were “not the preferred approach”.

The First Minister said that she was “impatient for independence” but added that a legal referendum, not one which would have to be tested in a court, was “most important”.

It comes after some prominent SNP members have suggested legally testing whether the Scottish Parliament can legislate for another poll before a judge.

Ms Sturgeon, speaking to Andrew Marr, said she was “working towards” another independence referendum by the end of this year.

She said: “I appreciate that some people are impatient for independence - I’m impatient for independence.

“But what’s most important of all is that we have a referendum that’s legal, legitimate and can actually deliver independence.”

The SNP leader has said she is focused on winning the “political case” for independence, saying that the position of the Prime Minister to withhold powers for the vote was “not sustainable”.

Ms Sturgeon also rubbished claims she would be leaving her post as party leader, saying reports of frustration in the SNP had been overblown.

She said: “All leaders should reflect on an ongoing basis. For me, two conditions are needed for me to stay as leader - and I do intend to lead my party into the next Scottish Parliament election.

“You have to have the support, not just of party but of country. I would say, humbly, that I’ve just led my party to another landslide election victory, winning 80% of the seats.

“Secondly, I have to be sure that I want to do this job, think I’m the best person to do this job, have the drive and energy and that’s emphatically the case.

“When either of these things cease to be the case then that’ll be the time for me to move on...That is not now and it is not imminent.”

Scottish Conservatives leader Jackson Carlaw said that the SNP government was “mired in sleaze and bereft of ideas.”

He said: “While Sturgeon intends to remain First Minister, her most senior lieutenants are already fighting like ferrets in a sack to be the next leader.

“Everyone knows it isn’t feasible to have indyref2 in 2020 but the First Minister will not rule out yet more constitutional and legal wrangling.”

Lobby group Scotland In Union leader Pamela Nash added that Sturgeon’s dedication to another referendum was “insulting... when the scale of the problems facing the public services she is responsible for has reached epidemic levels.”

Willie Rennie, leader of the Scottish LibDems, said:”The threat of another independence referendum is repelling investment and threatening jobs. People want an end to the constitutional chaos. The First Minister should focus on firefighting the huge failings she’s overseen in our public services at home.”