Ms Sturgeon is this week expected to delay demands for a fresh vote as she focuses on a so-called “soft Brexit”, keeping the UK and Scotland inside the EU single market.
It would mean the First Minister’s timetable for a second ballot on the country’s future between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 has been ditched.
Aides described reports that the plan had been parked as “entirely speculative” but SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford added to the confusion when he said the priority was “short term opportunities”.
Former Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill also launched a scathing attack on the party’s strategy branding it a “huge mistake” and said it was “paying for failures in policy”.
Ms Sturgeon is likely to spell out her next steps before Holyrood rises for its summer recess on Thursday after admitting independence was a factor in her party losing 21 seats in the general election.
Party insiders told Sunday newspapers there was a near consensus for postponing a referendum at a meeting of the SNP’s ruling National Executive Committee last weekend.
One reportedly said: “Everyone round that table believed in independence but everyone round that table also knew that the prospect of an imminent referendum cost us support.”
Another described independence as an “insurance policy” against an undesirable Brexit deal.
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “Reports in today’s newspapers are entirely speculative.
“We have always made clear our view that the people of Scotland should have a choice at the end of the Brexit process and the First Minister will set out her views on the way forward in the coming days.”
Pressed on the issue in a television interview today Mr Blackford said “we need to wait and see what the outcome” of EU divorce talks and insisted Scots “should have their say on the final outcome of Brexit.”
But he told BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland, he was focussing on “the short term opportunities” adding: “The…