icola Sturgeon said the Scottish government would not hold an “illegal and savage referendum” as the Scottish Tories have alleged.
The talks between SNP leader Ms Sturgeon and her main rivals took place less than 36 hours before voters began to vote.
The televised showdown, broadcast on UKTN Scotland, saw leaders of the five biggest parties debate issues ranging from the coronavirus to the healthcare system and taxation.
Ms Sturgeon rejected the accusation that a Scottish government led by the SNP was holding an “illegal referendum on feral cats”.
Responding to Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross’ assertion, the Prime Minister said: ‘No, we won’t. I’ve always said that, Douglas.’
She added: “I know in Douglas that your campaign may not have been the most successful campaign, but don’t start slandering and just telling lies about my position and what I said. .
“I have always said consistently, sometimes to criticism from people on my side of the argument, that I would not accept an illegal referendum – not least because it would not guarantee independence and I want it to be. ‘Scotland in due course and in due course to become an independent country. “
Mr Ross said that if a request was made for another referendum Prime Minister Boris Johnson would reject it.
“Nicola Sturgeon has been clear. If she gets a majority, she will look away from the ball for the recovery of Scotland, for the rebuilding of this country from this pandemic and will seek to hold another referendum on independence.”
Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar, meanwhile, questioned the Tory leader’s commitment to the UK, saying: “The problem you have with Douglas’s approach is that he’s just a gift to the SNP and if he leads the opposition after this election, he will be The gift that keeps on giving.
“He’s only interested in saving his own skin, not saving the Union.”
Scotland’s co-leader of the Greens, Patrick Harvie, said the possibility of an independent Scotland would allow the country to shape a more radical future.
“I don’t think we can afford to pass up the opportunity to shape our own recovery,” he said.
“This is an incredible moment of opportunity to decide what kind of country is going to emerge from Covid.”
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie, however, was enraged by the constitutional discussion, saying: “People who are waiting an age for mental health treatment, I think, deserve better than that, people who desperately have need a job deserve better than this. “
The prime minister also said she did not support a tax hike, but admitted that “unforeseen circumstances” such as block grant cuts may necessitate such a move.
Mr Ross’s party has also said it wants to bring taxes back in Scotland to the rest of the UK, but say this will only happen towards the end of the legislature, economic prospects permitting.
“I am not saying this is an iron commitment,” said the Conservative.
“But our commitment is to seek parity in the tax system, for 1.1 million people in Scotland who are taxed more for doing the exact same work as in the rest of the UK.”
Mr Sarwar, who has also said he is against a tax hike but would like to see such a move for those earning at least £ 150,000 a year at first instance, accused the Tory leader of wanting to give himself a tax cut. ‘tax – to Mr. Ross’ protests.
“What Douglas is trying to say … is that he would give himself a tax cut rather than people from across the country.”
Mr Ross is already a Member of Parliament and is looking to become a Member of Parliament, as well as being the leader of the Scottish Tories.
“You want to give yourself a tax cut for maybe the three salaries you want to earn,” Sarwar told him.