NICOLA Sturgeon has said she plans to push ahead with plans to make the next general election a 'de facto' referendum following this morning's ruling from the Supreme Court

At a press conference in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said she had asked her party's executive committee to organise a special conference in the new year "to discuss and agree."

The First Minister told MSPs in June that if the Supreme Court agreed that Holryood had the power to hold a vote without the consent of Westminster she would hold a second referendum on October 19 next year.

At the time, she said that if the court ruled against her it would be “the fault of Westminster legislation” and she would fight the next general election as a “de facto referendum” on the single issue of independence.

On Wednesday morning, five justices unanimously ruled that "in the absence of any modification of the definition of reserved matters by an order in council under Section 30 of the Scotland Act or otherwise, the Scottish Parliament does not have the power to legislate for a referendum."

The First Minister said the ruling "confirms that the notion of the UK as a voluntary partnership of nations is no longer, if it ever was, a reality."

She said the SNP was "not abandoning the referendum route" but that Westminster was "blocking it."

Ms Sturgeon said the opportunity “remains open for the UK Government, however belatedly, to accept a democracy and reach an agreement”.

The First Minister said: “I make clear again today, therefore, that I stand ready at any time to reach agreement with the Prime Minister on an adjustment to the devolution settlement that enables a lawful, democratic referendum to take place.”

Ms Sturgeon said she would not "go cap in hand" Downing Street. 

She added: "My expectation, in the short term at least, is that the UK government will maintain its position of democracy denial. 

"That position is, in my view, not just unsustainable - it is also utterly self-defeating.

"The more contempt the Westminster establishment shows for Scottish democracy, the more certain it is that Scotland will vote Yes when the choice does come to be made.

"As for that choice - and for the avoidance of any doubt - I believe today, just as I did yesterday, that a referendum is the best way to determine the issue of independence. 

"The fact is, the SNP is not abandoning the referendum route, Westminster is blocking it.

"And in that scenario, unless we give up on democracy - which I, for one, am not prepared to do - we must and will find another democratic, lawful and constitutional means by which the Scottish people can express their will. 

"In my view, that can only be an election.

"The next national election scheduled for Scotland is the UK General Election, making it both the first and the most obvious opportunity to seek what I described back in June as a de facto referendum." 

She said the de facto referendum was now "no longer hypothetical.",

"It is necessary to agree the precise detail of the proposition we intend to put before the country - for example, the form our manifesto will take, the question we will pose, how we will seek to build support above and beyond the SNP, and what steps we will take to achieve independence if we win."

Asked to spell out what election result she would consider a mandate for independence. 

The SNP leader said "majority support for independence is an essential requirement of Scotland or any country becoming independent."