A consultation on legislation which could lead to a second Scottish independence referendum closes today.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced in October her government would be seeking views on the issue in the wake of the UK’s vote to leave the European Union (EU).
While a majority across Britain backed Brexit, almost two-thirds (62 per cent) of Scottish voters wanted to remain part of the EU.
The SNP leader said at the time: “I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence - and to do so before the UK leaves the EU - if that is necessary to protect our country’s interests.”
The SNP manifesto in the run-up to the 2016 Holyrood elections indicated another referendum could take place “if there was a significant and material change in the circumstances” from 2014 “such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will”.
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The consultation proposes regulations that would govern any future referendum, which largely follow those from the September 2014 vote, when Scots backed staying in the UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent.
The Scottish Government has also published separate proposals aimed at protecting Scottish interests in Europe, which include options to allow the country to remain in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves and to transfer significant new powers to Holyrood.
But Ms Sturgeon has consistently stressed that the Scottish Parliament must be able to consider the option of an independence referendum ‘’if it becomes clear that it is the best or only way of safeguarding Scotland’s interests’’.
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “Responses to the consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill will be analysed and the Scottish Government will respond in due course.”