Nicola Sturgeon: decision on a second Scottish independence referendum in the 'not too distant future'

Auslan Cramb
Nicola Sturgeon wants to 'let the dust settle' before announcing indyref2 plans - 2018 Getty Images

Nicola Sturgeon has promised to reveal her plans for a second independence referendum in the “not too distant future”, after claiming there was currently too much “chaos” over Brexit.

The First Minister, who was asked when she was going to “have the guts” to make an announcement on indyref2, said she would first have to let the dust settle on Theresa May’s Brexit deal.

She confirmed her MPs would vote against the deal and said she would be in London this week to seek an alliance with Jeremy Corbyn and others opposed to the Prime Minister’s plan, in the hope that they could “coalesce” around an alternative to the withdrawal agreement.

She claimed there were two possible ways forward that would mean either remaining in the single market and customs union, or another referendum on the EU.

Ms Sturgeon previously said she would make a statement on the timing of a second independence referendum after she had seen the Brexit deal.

But she told the BBC’s Andrew Marr show that it would be appropriate to wait and see what the House of Commons did with the withdrawal agreement.

David Mundell says he is sticking with the PM Credit: PA

She added: “I think it is reasonable to allow the dust to settle. We could be facing another general election, we could be facing another Brexit vote, but one thing is beyond any doubt, the implications, the consequences of Scotland not being independent have been very stark in the last few months, and particularly in the last week. Scotland’s interests have been sidelined, our parliament has been ignored.”

Asked when she was “going to have the guts to say we are going to have another independence referendum”, Ms Sturgeon replied: “That will be in the not too distant future, but we have chaos reigning at Westminster just now.”

David Mundell, the Scottish Secretary, described her approach to leaving the EU as “a row, a concocted grievance and the inevitable battle cry of independence”.

He also accused her of exploiting Northern Ireland’s troubles in her bid for independence after she made what he called “crass” demands for Scotland to be “equated with Northern Ireland” in its relationship with the EU.

He said her comments on the “backstop” deal, which would effectively keep Northern Ireland in the single market in the event that outstanding issues are not resolved by a new trade deal, showed that nothing was “off limits” for her.

Richard Leonard said the pain of Brexit would be nothing compared to independence Credit: Corbis

Mr Mundell said the arrangements were specific to Northern Ireland in order to prevent a hard border with the Republic and avoid a customs border in the Irish Sea, and were also required to protect a peace process that was still fragile after decades of bloodshed.

Writing in The Mail on Sunday, he added: “Her attempt to draw false parallels and use the Province’s troubled history to further her cause of independence is at best insensitive and at worst disgraceful.”

He admitted to having some reservations about Mrs May’s deal but said a “no deal” outcome would seriously damage Scotland’s economy, adding: “I’m backing the Prime Minister. Like her, I’m sticking at it.”

Ms Sturgeon said she “absolutely supported” whatever arrangements it took to preserve peace in Northern Ireland, but the backstop would put Scotland at a competitive disadvantage with the Province.

She added: “Those who don’t think the Prime Minster’s deal is the right way to go, have now a responsibility to come together and coalesce around an alternative and I am happy to play my part in that and I will seek to have discussions this week with other parties to get us into that position.”

She also said she would “love to have another general election to allow people to get rid of this shambles of a Tory government, the most dysfunctional, incompetent Tory government in my lifetime”.

Richard Leonard, Scottish Labour leader, said the turmoil of Brexit would be nothing compared with the turmoil of independence.