Nicola Sturgeon will consider holding a second referendum on Scottish independence in 2017 if the Westminster government starts to leave the EU without settling the UK-wide approach promised by Theresa May.
Asked on the BBC’s Sunday Politics Scotland programme about her position should article 50 be triggered in December – as proposed by the newly appointed Brexit minister, David Davis – without the Scottish government being “on board”, Sturgeon said that was why she was making preparations for a second independence referendum.
“Of course at that point that would be an option and a decision that I would have to consider,” she said.
May has assured Scotland’s first minister during her first official visit to Edinburgh last Friday that she would not trigger article 50 until “a UK-wide approach” had been agreed for negotiations to leave the EU.
When Sturgeon was then asked if she would be happy to have an independence referendum in the first half of next year, she said: “I will have an indyref if I come to the conclusion that is in the best interests of Scotland. I’ve always said that. It would be up to Scottish people ultimately to decide if that is right way to go.”
She added that if a second independence referendum were to be held, it would make sense for it to happen before the UK left the EU.
The SNP leader also revealed that during their meeting, May had not indicated that she would seek to block such a referendum.
However, speaking immediately after the meeting, the new prime minister appeared to rule out the possibility in principle, saying: “As far as I’m concerned, the Scottish people have had their vote, they voted in 2014 and a very clear message came through. Both the United Kingdom and the Scottish government said they would abide by that.”
Sturgeon added that while May’s assurances about her commitment to reaching a UK-wide approach on Brexit before triggering article 50 put the Scottish government in a strong position, “veto ... is not a word I’m going to use”.
Earlier on Sunday, Sturgeon corrected The Andrew Marr Show for implying that she had suggested Scotland now held a veto.
This article was written by Libby Brooks Scotland correspondent, for theguardian.com on Sunday 17th July 2016 14.50 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010