Nicola Sturgeon says EU exit would create 'groundswell of anger' in Scotland and a 'clamour' for second independence referendum

Nicola Sturgeon made the warning in her first speech in Brussels since becoming First Minister of Scotland

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Nicola Sturgeon has stepped up her calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence as she predicted there would be a “clamour” for another vote if Britain left the European Union.

David Cameron will call a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU before the end of 2017 and has pledged to renegotiate the UK's relationship with the 28-state bloc before holding an in-out vote.

Ms Sturgeon, making her first speech in Brussels as First Minister of Scotland, said there would be a “clamour” for the Scots to be given another vote on their fate if the UK as a whole voted to quit the EU.

David Cameron ruled out a second independence referendum during his meeting with Nicola Sturgeon in Edinburgh last month

Such a vote would create a “groundswell of anger,” she added, renewing calls for a “double majority” rule in the EU vote that would require all four UK nations to back withdrawal from Brussels before it can take place.

"I previously stated my view that if Scotland were to be taken out of Europe despite voting as a nation to have remained, it would provoke a strong backlash amongst many ordinary voters," she claimed.

"Quite what the result of that would be no-one can perceive but I've stated before that this could be one scenario producing the kind of material change in circumstances that would precipitate popular demand for a second independence referendum.

"Bluntly, I believe that the groundswell of anger amongst many ordinary people in Scotland under these circumstances could produce a clamour for another independence referendum that may well be unstoppable.

"Of course it is open to the UK Government to stop that happening, to guard against that scenario by agreeing to the double majority provision."

Ms Sturgeon said she would lobby Mr Cameron to allow 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in the EU referendum, as was the case in last autumn's Scottish independence vote. She also called for EU citizens from outside the UK to be given the vote - a move opposed by the Conservative government.

"It is incomprehensible to us, for the EU referendum, that the UK Government is proposing to grant the right to vote to the citizens of three other EU countries - Ireland, Malta and Cyprus - but not the remaining 24.

"Denying them a say, on an issue which affects them so directly, is unfair, undemocratic and unjustifiable."