NICOLA Sturgeon has been told to put the pandemic ahead of prioritising another independence referendum.

Willie Rennie has accused te First Minister of wanting to see a “sequel” to Brexit next year as the pair clashed over a second independence referendum.

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader said the current difficulties at the border in Dover give a “glimpse” of the consequences of breaking up an economic partnership – and warned Ms Sturgeon not to pursue a repeat by pressing the UK Government to grant a re-run of the 2014 independence referendum.

But during First Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Ms Sturgeon hit back, accusing Mr Rennie of providing a “pantomime” of his own while insisting she had put planning for indyref2 on hold when the pandemic struck and is not actively planning for a poll to be held while the crisis is being dealt with.

Mr Rennie said: “We’ve had a glimpse in the last 48 hours at Dover of what happens when you break an economic partnership.

“Yet the First Minister wants to repeat the same mistakes by this time next year with her referendum.

“I know that Christmas is a time for sequels. But we have now seen what Brexit One is like, yet the First Minister still wants Brexit Two – the break-up of another economic union.

“Why does the First Minister want another break-up by next Christmas?

“At the weekend the First Minister said it would be unconscionable to carry on with Brexit in the middle of a global pandemic, oblivious to the irony that she plans to hold an independence referendum in the middle of a pandemic.”

The First Minister responded by pointing out her wish for an independent Scotland to be part of an international community by rejoining the European Union.

She said: “The only reason, right now, we are faced with the prospect of a no-deal Brexit in Scotland is because we are not independent and it has been foisted upon us against our will.

“Independence is not the same as Brexit, independence would see Scotland joining other independent countries in the European Union, working together where we need to – including on matters like Covid and charting our own future.

“I’ve worked out what Willie Rennie is up to today, he’s realised that people are really missing pantomimes so he’s decided to provide one all of his own.”

Ms Sturgeon accused the Lib Dems of becoming a pro-Brexit party, pointing to the organisation once calling for a second Brexit referendum, now changing its tact.

She added: “As we start to recover from this pandemic, as all of us across the world start to ask ourselves what kind of countries, what kind of societies, do we want to live in.

“I want the people of Scotland to be in charge of answering that question, not the likes of Boris Johnson."