The SNP is preparing to stage a referendum on Scottish independence before the UK leaves the EU, it has emerged.
A spokesman for First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said this meant a vote would happen inside the two year timeframe of the UK’s departure from Europe - if Scotland can’t reach a deal to maintain its EU relations as part of the UK.
The new Prime Minister, likely to be appointed in early September, is expected to trigger the Article 50 talks soon after taking office. This would se the clock ticking on a two year timeframe for the UK’s departure.
SNP strategists reportedly said today that the question on a future independence referendum would ask Scots whether they want to continue as an EU member or leave with the rest of the UK.
A spokesman for Ms Sturgeon said: “The First Minister made it clear that if it is the case of becoming an independent nation within the EU then a second independence referendum is very much on the table.
“She made it clear that once Article 50 is invoked, a two-year clock is ticking and that a referendum would be likely to be held within that timetable.
“We have not said that a referendum will definitely happen – but if it does then that is fairly likely to be the timetable.”
Nationalists increasingly believe concerns over the economic turmoil facing Scotland would be offset by the uncertainty of leaving the EU.
But Scottish Secretary David Mundell today warned that a second referendum would be the “wrong thing” for Scotland.
In an article for the Daily Record, he said; “There is no evidence that a majority of people in Scotland want to see us go backwards to the issue of independence. Indeed quite the reverse..
He added; “I am as convinced today as I was 18 months ago that it is firmly in Scotland’s best interests to remain a part of the United Kingdom and I am very confident of making those arguments again.”