Ms Kearney said: “Ms Sturgeon would say the answer is to have independence.
“She is now saying, in a shift of position, that if the SNP win in May, we will hold a referendum.
“Won’t she have a democratic mandate for that?”
Mr Brown insisted the people of Scotland had other priorities than independence at this time.
He said: “I am afraid Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish National Party see the whole future of the United Kingdom in terms of a battle between Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom.
“What I would emphasise is that people in Scotland, despite their dissatisfaction with how their country is governed feel Scottish and British.
“That has not really changed a huge amount.”
“This is their priority at the moment and anything that diverts from that at the moment and holding a referendum right now in the midst of a virus when you can’t even have public meetings or door to door canvassing would seem quite unfair to the democratic process.
“I don’t think there is a huge support for holding a referendum in Scotland now.
“I think people have other priorities and I do believe we can put the argument properly of the United Kingdom and what we have in common.”