Scotland could hold a second referendum without David Cameron's approval, suggests senior SNP source

Scottish Government could stage second vote if there was a sufficient political mandate, insider suggests, but claims were dismissed by Nicola Sturgeon

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A second referendum on Scottish independence could be held without the consent of David Cameron, a senior SNP source has said.

The Prime Minister was quick to rule out the prospect of another referendum shortly after the Conservatives won a majority in last week’s election and speaking on a visit to Edinburgh today, he said a second vote was not "remotely on the cards".

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David Cameron ruled out a second independence referendum during his meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh

But speaking privately to journalists at Westminster, an influential figure in the SNP has claimed a second ballot could be held even if Mr Cameron refused to grant it legally.

They added that if the Scottish nationalists felt they had a political mandate - either through winning next year's Holyrood elections or grievances against the Conservative government at Westminster - a second referendum could be staged by the Scottish Government without Mr Cameron's approval.

The insider predicted that were such a vote held tomorrow, Scots would vote in favour of independence and suggested the Scottish Government could declare secession if the vote returned a "yes" vote. 

Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, slapped down whoever the source within her party was, dismissing the claims and describing them as "totally wrong".

"There are no such plans," her spokesman said.

"The position is crystal clear: the general election was not a mandate for another referendum. There will only be another referendum if and when the people of Scotland back such a proposal at a Scottish Parliament election," the spokesman added.

Mr Cameron, speaking to journalists on a visit to Scotland, suggested the unidentified source was Alex Salmond, the former First Minister who was re-elected as an MP last week.

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