Scottish independence referendum ‘must wait’ for Brexit vote

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Any announcement on another Scottish independence referendum would be “presumptuous” before the House of Commons has voted on the terms of the UK’s Brexit deal, the SNP’s Westminster leader has said.

Ian Blackford said clarity on the “Brexit destination” was only likely by the end of the year, limiting what Nicola Sturgeon will be able to say to SNP activists when they gather in Glasgow for a party conference at the start of October.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford. Picture: Jane Barlow/PA.

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The SNP had originally targeted October for an announcement on the timing of indyref2, but an EU summit next month is no longer expected to deliver an agreement on Brexit. A further emergency summit in November now appears likely, with a Commons vote on the outcome in December or January.

“The judgement that we have made is that we can reflect on the options for Scotland once we know the Brexit outcome,” he said. “We now know that’s unlikely to happen in October.

“You’ve probably got to give us a bit of time. It would be presumptuous of us to give you an outline of what we will do until we know what the Brexit destination is.”

Mr Blackford said “in effect” that meant waiting for the outcome of a Commons vote. “There has to be clarity ... we’ll know by the end of the year.”

At a conference in June, Ms Sturgeon told her party “not just to focus on the ‘when’ of independence, but to use our energy and passion to persuade those who still ask ‘why’”.