A second referendum on Scottish independence should be held this September before the latest Brexit departure date a month later, a senior SNP figure has said
Chris McEleny, a member of the party's ruling National Executive, says the October 31 Brexit extension provides Nationalists with the clarity needed to pursue a second referendum this year.
Nicola Sturgeon has pledged to set out her plans on a second independence vote when the Brexit situation becomes clearer but will face growing calls to make a statement soon. Electoral Commission rules could make it unlikely such a vote could be staged in such a short time, even if the UK Government was to back it.
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Mr McEleny, who lost out to Keith Brown for the SNP deputy leadership last year, called on his party to campaign “with everything we have” to deliver an independence referendum before October 31.
“With an extension to the end of October, we now have the clarity that people required," Mr McEleny said.
"People in Scotland should be given the opportunity to voice their preference on the future they want for Scotland.
"Before the UK leaves the EU it is now time to press with everything we have to give people the opportunity to decide if they want Scotland’s future relationship with the EU decided for them or if they want to take that decision into their own hands by deciding that Scotland should become an independent country.
"An independence referendum in September of this year would give us that opportunity."
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A key stumbling block to a second referendum would be Prime Minister Theresa may's refusal to grant a Section 30 order which would allow Holyrood to legislate on such a vote.
Mr McEleney believes Scots are ready to vote yes after the last vote five years ago saw a 55%-45% majority in favour of staying in the UK.
" Since 2014 everything has changed," he added.
"Amongst many promises to convince people that weren’t quite ready for independence, the people of Scotland were categorically told that the best way to protect Scotland’s membership of the EU was to vote to stay part of the UK. As part of the UK we are now being dragged out of the EU regardless of what people in Scotland want."