NICOLA Sturgeon has dismissed a Labour MP’s claim that she has a “brass neck” for pursuing a second independence referendum.

Lisa Nandy took aim at the First Minister after she unveiled her route map to leaving the Union.

Tory Defence Secretary Ben Wallace also attacked the SNP leader for having “banged on” about independence despite losing the 2014 referendum.

Sturgeon, addressing Parliament on Tuesday, said her government will hold a referendum in October next year, subject to a Supreme Court ruling on the legality of the ballot.

If Holyrood ministers are unsuccessful in the courts, they will consider the next UK General Election to be a “de-facto” referendum on independence.

In response, Labour MP Nandy told Sky News: “I think Nicola Sturgeon has some brass neck. She and her friends in the SNP are the ones that said an independence referendum was a once-in-a-generation chance to settle the question. And what she’s done in the last 24 hours is nothing to do with the interests of Scotland.

“It has to do with the interests of the SNP. She’s launching an election bid.

“There are 700,000 people on waiting lists in Scotland for NHS treatment. If I were in charge in Scotland, I would be looking very seriously at how to tackle that crisis. This is the thing that is keeping families awake at night and she ought to be looking at that.”

Ben Wallace, who served as an MSP for the north-east region for four years until 2003, also hit out at the First Minister.

“Nicola Sturgeon has had enough of Westminster since 1999, when I went into the Scottish Parliament with her,” he told Sky News. “The problem is she's had enough of that, but she hasn't actually done her job of delivering for the people of Scotland, better health care, better schools, better crime rates, better education and all the things that are really important to the people of Scotland.

“Instead she's desperate I think now to have a have a second referendum even though all the promises were a referendum is a once in a generation.”

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He continued: “They had the referendum, they lost the referendum, and instead of them saying okay, hands up, let's try and see if there's a better way to try and better the people of Scotland’s experience with public services, she's just banged on on the same one-trick pony.

“I think the problem for Nicola is, time is running out. And you know, I think she knows because for all the sort of spin she put on separation, she knows that every day that goes past, every day further away from her sort of referendum zeal or the division that she stoked up the first time round, people are feeling that belonging to the United Kingdom is probably a better option.

“And the reason they want to belong to UK is if you look at Coivd, the scale of support to Scotland could only have been delivered by a greater political union. If you look at defence, you’ve got president Putin threatening nuclear on numerous occasions. People in Scotland realise that we are greater together, better together as a nation.”

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Both Sturgeon and Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon used the phrase “once in a lifetime opportunity” or “once in a generation opportunity” to define the political stakes facing the Scottish electorate during the 2014 independence campaign.

But in a series of broadcast interviews on Tuesday, the First Minister rubbished claims that those comments meant the 2014 vote could not be repeated.

She noted the referendum had taken place “almost a decade ago”, adding that "the world has changed dramatically in the years since".

Responding to Nandy and Wallace on Sky News, she said: “I'm a democrat. I was elected First Minister. My government was elected just over a year ago on a proposition to give people in Scotland the choice of independence, recognising the significant changes that have taken place in the UK since Scotland last had that opportunity, recognising the fact that Westminster, with governments we don't vote for here in Scotland, is taking us in the wrong direction.

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“There is a majority, a clear majority of the Scottish Parliament, behind that proposition. So it's a matter of democracy that people should have the right to choose. And then whether or not people choose independence is a matter not for politicians, whether that's me Ben Wallace or Lisa Nandy, that's a matter for the Scottish people.”

The First Minister added: “I suspect if my political opponents actually believed what they say, that Scotland doesn't want independence, then they would not be so desperate to block Scotland's opportunity to have that choice.”