Scotland seeks a second independence referendum

Some 55 per cent of Scottish voters chose "no" in a binding 2014 referendum asking whether the nation should be independent, but a clause behind that vote stipulated that Edinburgh could call a second vote if Scotland's circumstances - such as its European Union status - changed.

The SNP leader said the independence ballot would take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 and would involve a simple "yes" or "no" option.

He also urged the Government to give an "immediate" cast iron guarantee to the 3.3 million European Union citizens living here.

Ms Sturgeon issued a direct challenge to the Conservatives, asking: "If on Wednesday next week this parliament votes for an independence referendum to give the people of Scotland a choice over their own future, will the Conservatives respect the will of this parliament or are the Conservatives running scared?"

"Over the past few months we have worked hard, really hard, to try and find agreement, the Prime Minister and her government have been given every opportunity to compromise", she said.

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Scotland voted by 55% to 45% to remain in the United Kingdom in a referendum in September 2014 - but Ms Sturgeon says a second vote is needed to allow the country to choose what path to take following last year's Brexit vote.

The prime minister added: "My message is clear - now is not the time".

"I will continue to stand up for Scotland's interests during the process of Brexit negotiations", she said. Sturgeon responded by calling any attempt by May to block the vote a "disastrous move" and pledged to move forward with the idea.

Her Scottish Secretary, David Mundell, has tweeted that holding a referendum before Brexit would be "not fair and can't be agreed". "We will vote against any request for a Section 30 next week".

During an interview in 2012, Mr Barroso said: "For European Union purposes, from a legal point of view, it is certainly a new state". There was no immediate response from British Prime Minister Theresa May's office.

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Ms Sturgeon said that she had sought compromise with May's government, but had been met with a "brick wall of intransigence".

"It is just as important that we do not leave it [the referendum] too late to choose a different path in a timely way", the Scottish first minister said.

Ms Sturgeon has been seeking a deal that will allow Scotland to stay in the European single market and customs union.

"I am not turning my back on further discussions should the United Kingdom government change its mind", she said.

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