THE ONLY acceptable route to a second referendum would be through a section 30 order, Douglas Ross has said.

The leader of the Scottish Conservatives, speaking at an online event with the Centre for Policy Studies this morning, said the legal order is the only method to another referendum that he would recognise.

It comes after the SNP launched a routemap to holding another poll on Saturday, saying that should they get a majority in May, they could pursue a legal case for another poll and challenge the UK government to fight against them.

Mr Ross, MP for Moray, said the section 30 – referencing a section of the Scotland Act which allows a vote on the constitution to be held – would be the only mechanism for a vote that he would accept.

He said: “That's the correct mechanism for any future referendum if we were to hold one because, as I say, that's how the two governments agreed to the 2014 referendum.

“They agreed that's the gold standard because it went through a section 30 order, there was discussion between the Scottish and UK governments and they agreed a position in terms of the franchise, the date, the question was arrived at and that is the way you conduct business in a democracy.

“You use the procedures that are clearly laid down.”

He also criticised the SNP's announcement over the weekend in the midst of the pandemic, saying that it was the “sad reality of where we are now.”

The Scottish Tory leader explained: “The SNP will promote independence and another divisive referendum over absolutely everything else.

“John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister was saying that Scotland somehow needed independence as a way out of Covid-19, which is ridiculous.

“All the effort, all the energy and time and focus should be on beating Covid-19, should be on protecting as many people as possible with the testing system, with looking at the restrictions, whether they're at the right level or not, and getting people vaccinated.

“But when you get the Deputy First Minister of the SNP government saying they needed independence as a way out of Covid-19 that shows what you're up against - that mentality that puts independence and separation above all else.”

Mr Ross also added that Nicola Sturgeon should resign as first Minister if it was found that she misled MSPs at the inquiry into the Salmond affair.

Mr Salmond has suggested his former deputy has not told the whole truth to the committee of MSPs investigating the circumstances into the judicial review and handling of complaints of harassment against the former First Minister.

Ms Sturgeon said she strongly refutes the allegations of misleading parliament, denying she has supplied any inaccurate information to the committee.