Scotland politics

Scottish independence: Consultation on indyref2 to close

referendum bill Image copyright PA
Image caption The Scottish government consultation on its draft referendum bill ran from October until 11 January

A consultation on legislation which could lead to a second Scottish independence referendum is to close later on Wednesday.

The consultation proposes regulations that would govern any future referendum, largely based on those for the September 2014 vote.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced the draft bill immediately after the Brexit vote last June.

Bu she has ruled out holding a referendum this year.

Ms Sturgeon has consistently stressed that the Scottish Parliament must be able to consider the option of an independence referendum "if it becomes clear that it is the best or only way of safeguarding Scotland's interests" in the wake of Brexit.

While a majority of voters across the UK voted for the UK to leave the EU, almost two-thirds (62%) of Scottish voters wanted to remain.

The SNP manifesto in the run-up to the 2016 Holyrood elections indicated another referendum could take place "if there was a significant and material change in the circumstances" from 2014 "such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will".

The Scottish government has also published separate proposals aimed at protecting Scottish interests in Europe, which include options to allow the country to remain in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves and to transfer significant new powers to Holyrood.

Opinion polls

However, pro-union opposition parties have warned Ms Sturgeon against using the result of the EU referendum as a "proxy vote" for independence.

They have called on the Scottish government to focus on its "day job" of running Scotland's health and education services instead of focusing on the constitution.

And they have pointed to a series of opinion polls as evidence that the majority of people in Scotland do not want a second referendum, and do not support independence.

A Scottish government spokesman said: "Responses to the consultation on a Draft Referendum Bill will be analysed and the Scottish government will respond in due course."