The SNP’s John Swinney has called on Boris Johnson to “support the democratic will of the people of Scotland” and take forward a second independence referendum.

As counting is set to continue across the country, the SNP’s hopes of a majority are on a knife-edge.

However, the Deputy First Minister told BBC Breakfast that, with the backing of the Scottish Greens, he was “confident” there would be a pro-independence majority in Holyrood after all votes are counted.

He said that in that instance, the SNP would “embark on that agenda” and take forward the legislation to have a legal referendum.

But Mr Johnson has insisted he would not support an “irresponsible” referendum.

Mr Johnson said a referendum would be “reckless” in the “current context” following the pandemic.

Pressed on what he would do if Ms Sturgeon pushed ahead with a referendum without Westminster’s consent, he told the Daily Telegraph: “Well, as I say, I think that there’s no case now for such a thing … I don’t think it’s what the times call for at all.”

Speaking to BBC Breakfast, Mr Swinney said: “I completely understand the fact that there are people in Scotland who don’t want there to be another referendum on independence, but there are many other people who do and that’s what democracy is designed to resolve.

“What we’ll find at the conclusion of polling day, whatever the precise composition, is there will be a majority of members elected to the Scottish Parliament who will be committed to hosting an independence referendum.

“That’s a fundamental democratic point and that’s what the people of Scotland will have voted for, and Boris Johnson should accept democracy within Scotland, accept the fact the people of Scotland will have voted for that policy position to be taken forward after we’ve dealt with the immediacy of Covid, support us and take forward that referendum.”

When pushed on whether or not people voted for the SNP for a second referendum, or for other policies or their handling of the pandemic, Mr Swinney said “people will vote for political parties for a variety of different reasons, the same applies to any other political party – there will be a range of commitments.”

He added: “But central to our manifesto commitment was the proposition of there being a referendum of independence during this parliamentary term when we have the Covid situation in a more stable position.

“That was the position we took to the electorate and I’m confident there will be a majority for such a proposition in the Scottish Parliament.

“At that stage, the democratic will of the people of Scotland needs to be acted upon and Boris Johnson should support us in that process. “

Speaking yesterday, Nicola Sturgeon said the SNP would introduce the legislation for a referendum “and if Boris Johnson wants to stop that he would have to go to court”.

“If this was in almost any other democracy in the world it would be an absurd discussion,” Ms Sturgeon told Channel 4.

“If people in Scotland vote for a pro-independence majority in the Scottish Parliament, no politician has got the right to stand in the way of that.”

Mr Swinney added: “We’ve said that we will take forward the legislation to have a legal referendum and we already have put in place some of the legislative arrangements for that process and will embark on that agenda should there be a majority for such a proposition in the Scottish Parliament. “