Brexit: SNP hint at support for second EU referendum

The SNP could back a second referendum on whether or not the UK remains in the European Union, a senior Scottish cabinet minister has suggested.

Scottish Brexit minister Mike Russell. Picture: TSPL

Brexit minister Michael Russell said a second poll might be required to give people a chance to reject a bad deal with the EU when the Brexit negotiations conclude.

Mr Russell was responding to calls from the Liberal Democrats to back a second referendum.

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At their conference at the weekend, delegates voted to confirm party policy in favour of a referendum on the terms of any Brexit deal.

New party leader Vince Cable described it as a ‘referendum on the facts’ and ‘an exit from Brexit.’

Speaking on BBC Scotland’s Sunday Politics programme, Mr Russell said he was willing to discuss it further with Scottish Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie.

He said: “I do think there are grounds for saying, at some stage, the final settlement will have to be considered again, but it’s not now.”

Asked whether another referendum was needed, he replied: “Well, yes but it’s not now. I don’t rule that out by any manner of means but I think we need to sit down and talk about it.”

The Scottish Brexit minister is due to meet with Scottish Conservatives this week for talks to resolve an impasse over the EU withdrawal bill which successfully passed through its first hurdle in the Commons last week.

The bill has been branded a power grab with powers repatriated from Brussels going to Westminster after Brexit rather than be devolved to the home nations.

Responding to Mike Russell’s comments, Willie Rennie said he was surprised the SNP had not backed the call for a public vote on the Brexit deal before now.

“I hope the SNP can come behind us and back this proposal because it’s eminently sensible considering the impact it will have,” he said.