icola Sturgeon has accused Boris Johnson of being “frightened of democracy” as a row blew up over an SNP “roadmap” towards another Scottish independence referendum.
The First Minister spoke out after the Prime Minister suggested there should be a 40-year gap between the last referendum and any future one.
The Scottish National Party this weekend unveiled an 11-point “roadmap to independence”, which includes plans to hold their own vote should the Westminster government refuse to grant one.
The move would effectively challenge Mr Johnson to take legal action to stop it and save the UK – a move the SNP has said it would fight.
Scotland voted against independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent in a 2014 referendum.
The First Minister was asked on Sunday if she would hold an advisory “home-made Scottish referendum” if the SNP wins the upcoming Scottish Parliament elections in May.
“I want to have a legal referendum, that’s what I’m going to seek the authority of the Scottish people for in May,” she said.
“And if they give me that authority that’s what I intend to do.”
She told the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show: “He’s frightened of democracy. The polls now show that a majority of people in Scotland now want independence.
“If the SNP win the Scottish election in a few months’ time on the proposition of giving the Scottish people that choice then what democrat could rightly stand in the way of that?”
She added: “It’s Robert Burns’ birthday tomorrow, our annual Burns Day.
“And when I hear Boris Johnson talk about this, I bring to mind a Burns poem: ‘Cowerin’ timorous beastie, what a panic’s in thy breastie’.”
The Sunday Times published the results of opinion polls in the four nations of the UK, which found a majority of voters thought Scotland was likely to be independent in the next 10 years.
In Scotland, the poll found 49 per cent backed independence compared with 44 per cent against – a margin of 52 per cent to 48 per cent if the undecideds are excluded.
Shadow home secretary Nick Thomas-Symonds said Labour was “against the idea of a second independence referendum”.
He told Sky News: “At the moment we are in the midst of this pandemic, it is this pandemic and working together across the UK to try to do our best to save lives, that should be the absolute focus at the moment, not this constitutional issue.”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross hit out at the SNP’s publication of its “roadmap to a referendum”.
Mr Ross told Times Radio: “Why don’t we have an 11-point plan to protect jobs in Scotland?
“Why don’t we have an 11-point plan to ensure businesses get the support they need?”