A Scottish independence referendum will be held “at the conclusion of the pandemic”, Scotland’s constitution secretary has pledged.
Mike Russell said that the SNP will publish its referendum bill this week.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford has previously indicated a referendum could be held towards the end of this year if his party is re-elected at Holyrood in May.
Mr Russell told the BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show that such a vote will be held “when the time is right”.
He was asked whether the referendum bill will have a timeframe and whether it will say an independence referendum will be held by the end of the year.
The MSP replied: “It’s going to say that we will hold an independence referendum when the time is right to hold it and that will be at the conclusion of the pandemic.
“Nobody is suggesting anything else and again that’s been misrepresented and what it’s going to say is something incredibly normal which is that people should have the right to decide their own future, that’s how the world works.”
Mr Russell also claimed that others are attempting to undermine the Scottish Parliament and said this has been “turbo-charged” by the Scottish Tories.
Scottish Conservative constitution spokesman Dean Lockhart said: “Yet again a tone-deaf senior minister goes on TV to confirm the intent to publish an independence referendum bill this week.
“Nicola Sturgeon’s government is mired in sleaze and out of ideas. Instead of focussing on Scotland’s post-pandemic recovery, they continue to rule out staging another damaging referendum as early as this year.
“Sturgeon and her gang have lost the plot. They have become so detached from reality that they’re disconnected from the priorities of hard-working Scots.
“To hear Michael Russell accuse others of undermining Holyrood is SNP spin at its most absurd. Sturgeon and her party have done everything possible to subvert parliament and undermine democratic accountability in a desperate bid to cling to power.”