Nicola Sturgeon to deliver 'important' Brexit speech as second Scottish referendum speculation grows

The speech comes ahead of a House of Commons vote on Article 50

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Nicola Sturgeon is to make an “important” speech about Brexit on Monday morning ahead of the Government triggering Article 50.

Speculation is growing that the Scottish First Minister could be set to announce a second independence referendum – an option she has kept open if Scotland is dragged out of the single market against its will.

Last week Ms Sturgeon hinted that autumn 2018 might be a suitable time to call a referendum – after the Brexit deal is set to be finalised.

The First Minister tweeted on Monday morning: “This morning, I'll make an important speech in Bute House ahead of the triggering of Article 50.”

The address will place ahead of a House of Commons vote on the Article 50 Bill later in the day and is expected around 11am.

If the Bill triggering the exit from the EU is passed, it could win royal assent as early as Tuesday, allowing Mrs May to begin the two-year Brexit process.

Ms Sturgeon is believed to want the Prime Minister to include a series of demands for Scotland to be given special treatment in negotiations, including a Section 30 order from Westminster, allowing a legally binding vote on Scotland's place in the UK to be held.

The First Minister has repeatedly warned that a fresh ballot is "highly likely" after Scots voted to remain in the European Union and the UK as a whole voted to leave.

Scotland strongly voted to Remain in the EU referendum but the British government has so far refused to allow it to stay in the EU.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said on Saturday on a visit to Scotland that he would not stand in the way of a second independence referendum – though Labour would still campaign for the country staying in the UK.

Additional reporting by PA