Theresa May will today accuse Nicola Sturgeon of ignoring the priorities of ordinary Scots because of an "obsession" with independence.

In a highly personal attack she will also tell the Scottish Conservatives conference in Glasgow that the SNP is treating issues like education and the living standards of millions as a game.

Last night she said that Scots “don’t want a referendum (on independence) – they want the SNP to get on with the day job”.

But she refused to be drawn on whether or not she would block another vote.

Speculation is mounting that Ms Sturgeon will make an announcement on a second referendum at the SNP’s conference later this month.

Ahead of Mrs May's speech, the SNP leader hit out at what she said was a Conservative Government that "increasingly ... seems to think it can do what it wants to Scotland and get away with it”.

She accused Mrs May's administration of failing to consider the SNP's call for a separate deal that would allow Scotland to stay in the Single Market after the UK leaves the European Union.

Critics of Mrs May’s ‘hard Brexit’ strategy warn it risks making the UK poorer, by prioritising control over immigration over access to the Single Market.

In her speech in Glasgow the Prime Minister will say that she is "confident about the future of our United Kingdom and optimistic about what we can achieve together as a country."

She will highlight the SNP’s announcement earlier this week of a delay to its planned flagship Education Bill.

She will say: “People in Scotland deserve a First Minister who is focused on their priorities – raising standards in education, taking care of the health service, reforming criminal justice, helping the economy prosper, improving people’s lives.”

She will claim that the SNP’s management of education in Scotland over the last decade has been a “scandal”.

“Scottish schools, which once led the world in setting the highest standards of attainment, are now outperformed in every category by schools in England, Northern Ireland, Estonia and Poland...just this week we have learned that the SNP Government has delayed its planned education Bill, such is their obsession with the single issue of independence"

And she will say that "politics is not a game and the management of devolved public services in Scotland is too important to be neglected."

Last night the Tory leader also told the BBC that her administration was “not going to take powers away from the Scottish government” and that she was working “very closely” with Scottish ministers, but that the final deal had to be good for Scotland and the UK as a whole.

Mrs May has called on Scots to send the SNP a message that they don't want another independence referendum by voting Tory in May's local elections.

UK Government sources have also questioned a referendum before voters know the details of the UK's 'divorce settlement' with Brussels would be “fair, legal and decisive”.

But a study by Winchester University found that 29 per cent of Tory grassroots members would welcome independence to end “unreasonable demands on England to provide ever greater financial and political concessions”.

Ms Sturgeon accused the UK Government of “obstinacy and intransigence” over Brexit.

She said that UK ministers had refused to “seriously engage” or compromise and accused the Tory leader of preparing to start exit talks “without any agreement or significant consultation with Scotland or the other devolved governments”.

Yesterday business leaders warned Mrs May that she would be "not only wrong but irresponsible” to follow through on her threat to walk away from Brexit negotiations without a deal.

Paul Drechsler, the president of the CBI, said that if the UK was forced to fall back on World Trade Organisation (WTO) rules British firms would face tariffs on 90 per cent of products they export to the EU.

Brexit Secretary David Davis this week warned cabinet minsters to prepare for the “unlikely” possibility that the UK rejects the proposed divorce settlement.

Mrs May has told other EU leaders that no deal would be better than a bad deal.

Mr Drechsler said: “To those whose first and only choice is for Britain to walk away without a deal, I say you're not only wrong but irresponsible."

Such an outcome would affect firms across the UK whether they were "a salmon farmer in Scotland, an aerospace giant in the Midlands or a tech start-up in Cambridge", he added.