Second Scottish independence referendum could happen before UK leaves EU

Some 62% of Scottish people voted to remain in the EU

Second Scottish independence referendum could happen before UK leaves EU

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon arrives ahead of First Minister's Questions in the main chamber at the Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh | Image: Jane Barlow PA Wire/Press Association Images

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she is preparing for a second referendum on independence from the UK.

She told her Scottish National Party conference an Independence Referendum Bill will be published for consultation next week.

She said there is "every chance" there will now be a second independence referendum before the UK leaves the EU.

Ms Sturgeon told delegates it will be a new debate - and not a re-run - of the failed vote of 2014.

Some 55.3% voted for the country to remain part of the UK, while 44.7% voted to leave.

"I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence, and to do so before the UK leaves the EU if that is necessary to protect our country's interests", she said to applause.

"When Scotland does come to take this decision again - whenever that might be - we must not take for granted how anyone will vote.

"It will be a new debate - not a re-run of 2014. We must not assume that people's views - yes or no - are the same today as they were two years ago.

"Instead we must engage the arguments with a fresh eye and an open mind.

"The case for independence will have to be made and won."

"Constitutional vandalism"

She also says Scotland must have a say in the Brexit process.

Some 62% of Scottish people voted to remain in the European Union bloc during the Brexit referendum.

"After the no vote in 2014 we were told the Sewel Convention - which means the UK Parliament can't make law in devolved areas without the consent of the Scottish Parliament - would be sacrosanct.

"Every party signed up to this. Now it seems the Tories are reneging.

"Well, they need to understand this - Scotland’s parliament is the democratic heartbeat of our nation.

"To deny it the right to give or withhold its consent on an issue of such magnitude would be an act of constitutional vandalism. It is not on."

A poll in September showed 50% of Scottish people are actually opposed to a second referendum.

The survey from YouGov found 37% of Scots back a second independence referendum and 50% were against.

Should a second vote be held, the results would be almost identical to last time - with 54% of Scots voting against independence and 46% in favour.