SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has told the prime minister it is a “matter of when, not if” there will be another vote on Scottish independence.

Her party narrowly failed to win a majority in this week’s Scottish Parliament elections, but with the Greens there is a pro-independence majority in Holyrood.

In a call with Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Sunday, she said another referendum on Scotland breaking away from the UK was now inevitable once COVID recovery was on track.

Her spokesman said: “The first minister made clear that her immediate focus was on steering the country through COVID and into recovery, and that a newly elected Scottish government would work with the UK government as far as possible on that aim.

“The first minister also reiterated her intention to ensure that the people of Scotland can choose our own future when the crisis is over, and made clear that the question of a referendum is now a matter of when, not if.”

The SNP has vowed to introduce legislation for another vote, but this could be challenged by the UK government in court.

A Downing Street statement on the call made no reference to the prospect of another referendum.

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Is there an appetite for indyref2?

It said the PM had congratulated Ms Sturgeon on securing “the largest number of seats in the Scottish Parliament” and “concluded by emphasising the importance of focusing on COVID recovery at this time”.

Mr Johnson has invited her and the leaders of the devolved administrations in Wales and Northern Ireland to a summit on the recovering from the pandemic.

Cabinet Office minister Michael Gove also refused to be drawn on the prospects of a repeat of the 2014 vote during interviews on Sunday.

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People of Scotland ‘have right’ to another vote

Appearing on Sky News’ Sophy Ridge on Sunday, the cabinet minister said the SNP’s demand for another vote revealed a “skewed set of priorities” while the UK concentrates on COVID recovery.

Asked if the UK government would seek to block a second border poll in the courts, Mr Gove told Ridge: “No, we’re not even going there at the moment.”

He added: “To start speculating about this type of legislation or that type of court hearing and all the rest of it, it’s just a massive distraction.

“I’m not interested in going down that blind alley.”

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Gove refuses to say if govt would back independence vote

Scots voted against independence by 55% to 45% in the 2014 vote, which was meant to be a once in a generation event.

But SNP supporters argue that circumstances have changed dramatically due to the Westminster decision to hold the Brexit vote, which pulled Scotland and the rest of the UK out of the EU.