The Scottish Parliament will propose a second referendum when a “range of polls” indicate most Scots want a second vote on the constitution, Nicola Sturgeon said today.
The SNP leader said evidence that a majority of people support another referendum would have to take place over a “period of time” before she moved for a second vote.
The First Minister remains on course for an overwhelming victory in Thursday’s Holyrood election, with Labour and the Tories a long way back, locked in a battle for second place. The SNP leader came under fire in the final TV leaders debate last night after stating she felt another referendum was “more likely than not” while she is in office.
The latest opinion poll by Panelbase yesterday showed support for independence stands at 47 per cent - up two points from the referendum two years ago. Ms Sturgeon says a number of polls showing this has risen above the 50 per cent mark could spark another referendum.
“If people want to have a referendum, then surely in a democracy that option cannot simply be ruled out,” she told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme.
She added: “We would have to see in a range of polls over a period of time that independence had become a clear option, the preferred option, of a majority. It’s quite clear.”
The SNP manifesto says there would have to be “clear and sustained evidence” over a period of time which shows that most Scots want another referendum before she moves again.
And Ms Sturgeon said today: “It’s not an opinion poll, it’s not a couple of opinion polls, it’s not a flash in the pan. It’s evidence over a consistent period of time.
“The Scottish Parliament would have to make a decision to propose another referendum. It would have to be legislated for.”
Responsibility over the constitution lies with Westminster and a deal with the last Coalition Government was struck for the 2014 referendum to be staged after the SNP’s Holyrood victory in 2011.
Ms Sturgeon says Holyrood should have the right to call a referendum and has warned Westminster politicians they have no right to stand in the way of this.
But Labour leader Kezia Dugdale accused Ms Sturgeon and Tory leader Ruth Davidson of being obsessed with re-running the “constitutional arguments of the past.”
She added: “At a time when we need politics to focus on how we use the new powers to stop the cuts and invest in public services, the Tories and the SNP are stuck in the past.
“We can never move on as a country if our politicians don’t lead the way. The SNP and the Tories want to spend the next five years re-running referendum arguments - Labour want to spend the next five years investing in the potential of Scotland’s people.