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Soft Brexit would take second Scottish independence referendum off the table, Nicola Sturgeon says

The first minister said the immediate possibility of a referendum could be abated

Jon Stone
Political Correspondent
Friday 06 January 2017 14:12 GMT
The Scottish First Minister had previously said being forced out of the single market might force her to trigger a second independence referendum
The Scottish First Minister had previously said being forced out of the single market might force her to trigger a second independence referendum (PA)

A soft Brexit would take Scottish independence off the table for the foreseeable future, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The Scottish First Minister said she was willing to set aside the immediate possibility of a second referendum to seek “consensus and compromise” over Brexit.

She had 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.

With polls suggesting little movement towards support for secession, however, the First Minister has revised her assessment, suggesting that independence was merely “direction of travel”.

She added that she would “never stop arguing” for Scotland to leave the UK.

“We want to try to work with others across the UK across the political spectrum to try to keep the UK in the single market,” the First Minister told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme.

“If that can't be done, then we want to explore ways – and we’ve put forward how we think this can be done – of keeping Scotland in the single market while continuing to protect free trade across the rest of the UK and said very clearly, of course, that would require additional powers for the Scottish Parliament.”

“We’ve put forward very detailed plans about how we avoid a hard Brexit and the reason it's important to avoid a hard Brexit, let's not forget, is because that will have a devastating impact on our economy and on jobs.

“So, I've, in a sense, been willing and am willing to put aside my preferred option of independence in the EU to see if we can explore a consensus and compromise option."

She added: “I think Scotland will become independent and I think that's the direction of travel. But we're talking at the moment in the context of the Brexit vote."

“In terms of the timescale of Brexit, that's what I've been very clear about.

“Am I going to stop arguing for independence or believing in independence? Am I going to stop believing Scotland is on a journey to independence? No.

“But we're talking here in the particular context and timescale of Brexit, and I'm putting these proposals forward in good faith.

“I’m deliberately saying ‘put my preferred option to one side and asking people if we can find a consensus and compromise option’.”

Soft Brexit is broadly the idea that Britain would remain inside the single market and not restrict freedom of movement in the event of it leaving the EU.

Ms Sturgeon, who was reelected by a landslide in the 2016 Scottish Parliament elections, has said she would keep Scotland inside the single market even if the rest of the UK left.

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