Nicola Sturgeon has said she will set out her plans for a second Scottish independence referendum after “this phase of the Brexit negotiations”.
The First Minister said in January she was going to set out her timetable for another vote in a “matter of weeks” but has since refused to give further details against the backdrop of Brexit chaos at Westminster.
Pressed about the timings of a second referendum by Patrick Harvie MSP at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said she would “wait to see what clarity emerges in the next few days”.
The independence-supporting Scottish Greens co-convener said: “Scotland needs the freedom to take a different direction, leave behind this chaos and find a different way out of the crisis – it’s why we need our independence.
“The First Minister told us that she would say something about her preferred timing within weeks.
“That was two months ago. Can I ask again – when?”
Ms Sturgeon replied: “On the issue of independence, the frustration people feel right now at our country – Scotland’s future – being determined by the DUP and a cabal of right-wing Tories is understandable and I absolutely share it.
“I said I’d wait until the end of this phase of the Brexit negotiations before setting out my views on the way forward for Scotland.
“Having done so this long, I think it is reasonable to wait to see what clarity emerges in the next few days, even if I suspect that will just be clarity that there will be no clarity.”
She added: “Then I will set out my views on the path forward. Nobody can be in any doubt that change is needed.
“The last three years have shown that the status quo is broken – it cannot protect Scotland from the folly of Brexit and all the folly that flows from that.
“Even the most ardent unionist must see that the way we are governed now by Westminster is broken.”
Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said Scottish independence would compound the “division and chaos” of Brexit and accused Ms Sturgeon of being inconsistent for believing leaving the EU would be “chaotic” but Scottish independence will be a “piece of cake”.
Ms Sturgeon replied: “The inconsistency in Willie Rennie’s position is this – he wants people across the UK to have the ability to escape Brexit through a second referendum and I agree with him on that.
“But if that doesn’t prove to be possible he thinks that Scotland should just grin and bear it and put up with the devastation of Brexit instead of Scotland having the choice to escape Brexit and have an independent future.”
Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said: “Nicola Sturgeon is behaving irresponsibly and treating the Brexit crisis as an opportunity to promote her divisive agenda, rather than behaving like a First Minister prepared to bring the country together.
“If the Brexit process has taught us anything, it has proved how incredibly difficult it is to leave a union of nations.
“Leaving the UK would be massively more complicated, would be eight times worse for our economy, and would lead to deeper austerity and higher taxes.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, independence is not the answer.
“That’s why a majority of people in Scotland know we are stronger together and want Nicola Sturgeon to take the reckless threat of a divisive and unwanted second independence referendum off the table.”
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