Scottish SNP government 'seriously considering second independence referendum next year'

Nicola Sturgeon’s team increasingly confident they can win as Brexit looms

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The Scottish government is seriously considering a second independence referendum next year, it has been claimed.

Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP is increasingly confident it would win a second vote, as the First Minister believes the circumstances around it would be different to the first poll because of Brexit.

Scots voted to remain a part of the UK by a wide margin in 2014.

Charles Grant, an adviser to the Scottish government’s Standing Council on Europe, told Reuters: “I believe the Scottish government is thinking very, very seriously about going for an independence referendum next year.

“They feel they have enough emotion and momentum to overcome the economic downsides ... the harder the Brexit, the more likely they are to break away.”

And one Scottish politician, speaking on condition of anonymity, told the agency: “If you don’t call [an independence vote] now, it’s off the cards for a generation.” The economic fallout of Brexit would make future voters wary of more change, they said.

The Scottish government published a draft bill for a second referendum last autumn, but Ms Sturgeon has said a “soft” Brexit would take Scottish independence off the table for the foreseeable future.

She has previously said that being forced out of the single market would be one red line that might cause her to trigger a second independence referendum.

However, Scottish Secretary David Mundell has said there is “no set of circumstances” in which Scotland could stay in the European Union as the rest of the UK completes Brexit. 

Last week, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator, said Europe “cannot afford to lose” Scotland.

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