The UK Government denying another Scottish independence referendum would shift the debate to one about democracy, former SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson has said.
The SNP has claimed Westminster will have no choice but to agree to a second vote if a pro-independence majority is elected in next week’s Holyrood poll.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has repeatedly said he will block an independence referendum regardless of the parliamentary arithmetic.
Speaking on the BBC’s Newsnight programme, Mr Robertson – the SNP candidate in Edinburgh Central – said further denial of a vote will reframe the debate.
“If the Government in London decides that it is going to ignore the democratic wishes of the people in Scotland, that’s extremely serious and poses, I think, a bigger problem for Boris Johnson and the Tories,” he said.
“What at the present time is an independence question moves into becoming a democracy question, and that’s something London won’t be able to control at all.
“So if the people vote for a Parliament that wishes there to be an independence referendum, London is really going to have to accede to that because if they don’t, the problem for them is going to get a lot, lot worse.”
Speaking to journalists on Friday, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross pushed back on the claim from Mr Robertson – whom he unseated in Moray at the 2017 general election.
Mr Ross said: “There is an issue at stake in this election and that’s the future of Scotland for the next five years.
“I’ve been very clear that there is a straight choice – the SNP taking us back to the division of the past and the arguments of separation, taking our eye off the ball over all the crucial issues here in Scotland, or voting for Scottish Conservatives who will stop an SNP majority, stop an independence referendum and get our Parliament and our politics and our country laser- focused on recovery.
“The more I speak to people, as we can start to do a bit more face-to-face campaigning, that is clearly the priorities I’m hearing from people right across Scotland – not more division, not more calls for separation, simply focused 100% on recovery.”