Nicola Sturgeon has said Theresa May is “deluding herself” by trying to persist with her Brexit red lines, and suggested details of the timetable for a second Scottish independence referendum would be revealed within “weeks”.
The First Minister was at Westminster to meet with SNP MPs, and said an extension of Article 50 and a People’s Vote were the only realistic options to break the Brexit deadlock.
However, she added: “I’ll say more about the timing of a referendum in the next matter of weeks.
“I want to see the UK stay in the EU, I think that would be best for the whole of the UK... even when Scotland is independent, that serves our interests best as well. That’s why we’re backing the People's Vote, the second EU referendum.
“But if that’s not possible, in terms of our wider interests, the chaos and the fiasco of the last couple of years have shown that the worst thing for Scotland is to be thirled to Westminster when it’s making such a mess of things. We’d be far better off in charge of our own affairs.”
The First Minister spoke to the Prime Minister by telephone late on Tuesday, following the unprecedented Commons defeat of the government’s Brexit deal by a margin of 230 votes.
Downing Street says it will open talks with opposition MPs in a bid to salvage the deal, but the strength of the rejection by MPs has further raised fears that the UK could leave the EU without a deal on 29 March.
“This is the biggest crisis the UK has faced in our lifetimes,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“I think the PM’s position sounds as if she is deluding herself about what is possible in the next 72 days that hasn’t been possible in the last two and a half years.
“It is time for everyone to get real, the country is facing a Brexit cliff edge, we can't carry on limping towards it oblivious to the reality.
“I think it makes people in Scotland think that if we were in charge of our own affairs we would perhaps be steering a better course right now now. We are in this position right now because we not independent.
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“There are big issues to debate around that but we are in this position right now because we are not independent and that is becoming clearer to people.”
Ms Sturgeon was asked about parliamentary and standards inquiries into her government’s handling of allegations of sexual harassment against her predecessor Alex Salmond, which he denies.
“It is not a situation I relish being in, and that is probably an understatement but these issues have to be confronted,” she said.
“There are a number of inquiries under way, and in these circumstances the right thing to do is to allow these inquiries to do their job and not run the risk of interfering or prejudicing them in any way.”