NICOLA STURGEON will push for a second independence referendum before Britain leaves the EU, the First Minister announced yesterday.
Her predecessor Alex Salmond said the issue had been “settled for a generation” when voters rejected independence by a 55 to 45 per cent margin in 2014.
But Ms Sturgeon said there had been a “significant and material change in the circumstances in which Scotland voted against independence” in the wake of Thursday’s Leave vote.
While there was a 52 to 48 majority in favour of Leave across the UK, the picture was very different in Scotland where all 32 local authority areas backed Remain and the total was 62 to 38 per cent in favour of staying.
“As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will,” said Ms Sturgeon in a press conference at official residence Bute House.
“I regard that as democratically unacceptable.”
The SNP leader said a second referendum “must be on the table” and is “highly likely” to take place before Britain’s formal separation with the EU, paving the way for Scotland to remain in the union as an independent member.
German MEP Manfred Weber, chair of the right-wing European People’s Party in the European Parliament and ally of Angela Merkel, boosted their hopes yesterday, saying: “Those who want to stay are welcome in the EU.”
Scottish TUC chair Grahame Smith cautioned that a second referendum would bring “added uncertainty.”
He said: “It is essential that it is fully recognised that the economic implications of an independent Scotland are different now from those in 2014, with the rest of the UK, our nearest neighbour and biggest trading partner, exiting the EU.”