EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - The Scottish National Party (SNP) will approach the next UK general election on the basis of it being a “de facto referendum” on Scottish independence.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said that while an actual referendum would be the “best way” to achieve independence, “we must, and we 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,” she added.

The First Minister was speaking after the UK Supreme Court ruled the Scottish Parliament could not legislate for a second independence referendum – the so-called IndyRef2 – without agreement from the UK Government.

At Prime Minister’s Questions Rishi Sunak was challenged by the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford to allow a new referendum. He added that blocking a referendum meant “the very idea that the United Kingdom is a voluntary union of nations is dead and buried”.