Sturgeon rules out second Scottish independence referendum this year

First minister says the direction of Brexit negotiations will influence whether second vote is held but No 10 says whole of UK should work together

Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out holding a second Scottish independence referendum this year but said another ballot remained highly likely.

The first minister suggested she would wait to see the direction of the Brexit negotiations. There is not going to be an independence referendum in 2017, I dont think there is anybody who thinks that is the case, she told STV News.

The majority of Scottish people voted remain in the EU referendum, and the Scottish government has already drafted legislation for a second referendum vote on independence which it has said it will use if it is the only option to protect Scotlands place in the single market.

Over the weekend, Sturgeon denied she had been bluffing about the potential for a second poll but indicated that a soft Brexit, which kept the UK in the single market, would be enough to take the referendum off the table in the short-term.

We have to ask ourselves in Scotland: are we happy to have the direction of our country, the kind of country we want to be, determined by a rightwing Conservative government perhaps for the next 20 years, or do we want to take control of our own future? she told The Andrew Marr Show on BBC One.

Asked if she would anticipate a referendum within five to 10 years, she said: I would think, yes. But let me not get away from this point, Im putting to Theresa May a compromise solution.

A Number 10 spokeswoman said the Brexit negotiations would focus on the whole of the UK and that the Scottish government should abide by the decision in the 2014 independence referendum.

The prime minister and the governments position on this issue has long been clear, that there was a referendum that was fair, legal and decisive and should be respected in 2014 and that the focus in 2017 should be how do the component parts of the UK come together to deliver the best possible outcome for the UK to leave the EU, and that should be our focus, she said.

The Scottish Conservative leader, Ruth Davidson, said Sturgeon was leaving Scotland in limbo with her remarks. If shes serious about allowing Scotland to move on from constitutional navel-gazing, she should ditch her draft referendum bill immediately, Davidson said.

However, other supporters of independence said action needed to be taken to keep the door open for another referendum in the future. Scottish Greens co-convener Patrick Harvie said: The first minister may have said that there wont be a referendum on independence this year but legislation must be progressed to give Holyrood the option, and its welcome that the Scottish government remains committed to keeping it on the table.

This cannot be a quiet time ahead for supporters of independence; although the Brexit negotiations will take two years, work must begin now to build support and strengthen our case.


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