NICOLA Sturgeon has refuted Tory claims she plans to hold an "illegal, wildcat referendum" if the UK Government blocks another independence vote. 

The First Minister accused Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross of resorting to "smears" during the final BBC leaders' debate before the Holyrood election. 

She said: "I know Douglas that your campaign has perhaps not been the most successful campaign, but don't start to issue smears and just tell untruths about my position and what I've said.

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"I have said consistently all along, sometimes to criticism from people on my own side of the argument, that I would not countenance an illegal referendum, not least because it would not deliver independence.

"And I want Scotland, in the fullness of time, in due course, to become an independent country.

"And I will be responsible about that, and I will build and ultimately, I think, win the case for independence through patient persuasion of people across the country."

Mr Ross accused Ms Sturgeon of failing to outline the route to a second referendum if Prime Minister Boris Johnson says No.

He said: "We've heard a lot from Nicola Sturgeon tonight, but we haven't heard an answer. 

"What is Nicola Sturgeon's route to a second independence referendum is there's no Section 30 order?

"It's an illegal, wildcat referendum which her own MPs are saying will be held."