THE depute leader of the SNP has admitted he doesn’t know if Nicola Sturgeon will take the party into the next Holyrood election.
Appearing on BBC Newsnight, Keith Brown, who is also the Justice Secretary, stumbled over his answer when asked if the First Minister would still be in charge.
“I certainly hope so,” he said.
She would "quite possibly" go on "even beyond" the next general election, he added.
It came amid speculation Ms Sturgeon might step down after the next Westmimnster election - especially if she fights and loses it as a ‘de facto’ referendum on independence.
The First Minister doubled down on her Plan B yesterday after the UK Supreme Court dashed her plans to hold Indyref2 in October next year.
Five justices unanimously ruled that Holyrood cannot hold a referendum on independence without Wesminster’s consent - which the UK Government is refusing to grant.
Mr Brown later appeared on Newsnight to discuss the situation and ‘de facto’ plan.
Presenter Kirsty Wark asked him: “Are you 100 per cent sure that Nicola Sturgeon will lead you into the next election?”
Mr Brown replied : “Eh, we’re talking about the Westminster election? I think yes.
“I think even beyond that, quite possibly the next Holyrood election, I certainly hope so.
“But definitely in terms of the next election, the de facto referendum, if that’s where we end up.
“If the UK Government continues to ignore democracy, continues to ignore the fact that it’s previously said we’re in a voluntary Union, then we’ll have that debate, that discussion, that decision, and Nicola Sturgeon will lead us into that.”
With Alex Salmond and David Cameron both quitting after referendum losses, Ms Sturgeon was asked repeatedly yesterday if she would resign if she lost her de facto referendum.
However she refused to give a straight Yes or No answer, saying merely that she was enjoying her job and wanted to persuade Scotland to vote for independence.
She did not go into what she would do on the far side of the next general election, which is expected in 2024, by when Ms Sturgeon will have been in Bute House almost a decade.
She told an audience at the Edinburgh Fringe in August that she would decide “nearer the time” whether to lead the SNP into the next Holyrood election, which would mean asking the public to extend her term of office to 2031.