NICOLA Sturgeon is attempting to shame her Unionist opponents into supporting a new independence referendum in the absence of a clear legal path to her staging one without Westminster’s consent.

Ahead of tomorrow's Holyrood statement on her ‘route map’ to Indyref2 in October 2023, the First Minister heaped pressure on the Tories and Labour by accusing them of denying democracy.

Ms Sturgeon has said she has a mandate for a repeat of the “gold standard” process of 2014, when the referendum was agreed by London and Edinburgh, and the vote was put beyond legal challenge by Westminster lending Holyrood new powers under a Section 30 order.

Mr Johnson denied Ms Sturgeon a fresh Section 30 order in 2020, forcing her to admit this month she may have to proceed without one, a legally uncertain option.

If the Lord Advocate allowed an Indyref2 Bill to go through Holyrood, it would be challenged at the UK Supreme Court and potentially ruled ultra vires.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Westminster is taking a wrecking ball to the idea of the United Kingdom as a voluntary partnership of nations.

“A Tory Government with just six MPs from Scotland, supported on this issue by Labour, is seeking to deny the democratic right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.

“In doing so they are demonstrating beyond doubt that in place of a voluntary partnership they believe the UK is instead defined by Westminster control.

“The case for a referendum is therefore now as much a Scottish democracy movement as a Scottish independence movement.”

She went on: “Even previous Tory leaders from Margaret Thatcher to Theresa May said they believed the UK was based on the consent of the people who lived in its constituent nations.

“It is time for Boris Johnson and Keir Starmer to respect, not rubbish, the wishes of the people of Scotland and their democratically elected government.

“For 70 per cent of the time since 1979, Scotland has been governed by a Tory government we didn’t elect. Enough is enough.

“It’s time to restore basic democracy in Scotland to ensure people get the governments they vote for and through independence to build a proper partnership of equals between Scotland and our friends in the rest of the UK.”  

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross told the BBC yesterday his party would snub a “pretend referendum” that lacked Westminster's consent.

He said he would not “play Nicola Sturgeon’s games on this issue” and said the constitutional question had already been “answered in 2014”.

Meanwhile Alba leader Alex Salmond urged SNP MPs to “grind Westminster to a halt” through "agitation". 

He said: “A puff of wind would blow over Boris Johnson. The Section 30 route is not a gold standard. 

"The Scottish Government now need a campaign of popular agitation for when Boris Johnson says no. It must also include parliamentary agitation. You could grind Westminster to a halt with the over 40 MPs the SNP have.”