THE SCOTTISH Government has been told to bin its proposed draft legislation over a second independence referendum and “disown” comments made by the party’s Westminster leader for a poll to take place next year.

Mr Blackford said over the weekend that a second independence referendum “must take place in 2021” - while Scottish Government ministers have also called for a repeat of the 2014 vote to be held soon.

Nicola Sturgeon would not be drawn on the remarks when asked about the topic at her daily coronavirus media briefing.

She said: “My views on independence are well known.

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“When we get to the point where we are setting out plans and a manifesto for the election, I’ll set out my thoughts on the timing of that.”

She added: “I don’t think it should come as a surprise to anybody that people in the SNP want to think there’ll be an independence referendum sooner rather than later – that is probably the view of all of us.

“I’ll set out as First Minister, as leader of the SNP, when we set out our manifesto, what the timing of that is.”

In her Programme for Government, set out in September, Ms Sturgeon, announced that a draft referendum bill will be brought forward before May’s election which will include "setting out the terms of a future referendum clearly and unambiguously to the people of Scotland”.

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The Scottish Conservatives have called for the legislative proposals to be shelved and for the SNP to focus on the Covid-19 pandemic.

Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman, Dean Lockhart, said: “We’re in the middle of the second wave of this pandemic but SNP leaders and government ministers are ramping up their push for a 2021 independence referendum.

“With one eye on the upcoming SNP conference, the nationalists true colours are coming out.”

He added: “We need to hear the SNP Government fully disown Ian Blackford’s comments and withdraw their Referendum Bill. Words alone are not enough – if they are genuinely not contemplating a reckless referendum next year, they should withdraw the Bill.

“The threat of another divisive referendum is the last thing anyone needs or wants right now when the whole country is fighting Covid-19 and jobs are on the line.”