Scotland politics

Nicola Sturgeon's indyref2 statement 'likely' next week

nicola sturgeon Image copyright Reuters

Nicola Sturgeon is "likely" to make a statement on her independence referendum plans by the end of next week, her spokesman has said.

The first minister has been reflecting on Scottish government proposals for a fresh ballot on the issue in the wake of the general election result.

It saw the SNP lose 21 seats at Westminster after the party's share of the vote fell from 50% to 37%.

But the party's 35 seats meant it remained the largest in Scotland.

The first minister called in March for a second independence referendum to be held in the autumn of next year or spring of 2019, once the results of the Brexit deal are known.

She has insisted a vote was needed to give Scots an alternative to a "hard Brexit" after nearly two-thirds of voters in Scotland backed the UK remaining in the EU.

Cabinet meeting

But she has faced calls from opposition parties to ditch her plans - while some figures from her own party have called on her timetable to be "parked".

Ms Sturgeon discussed a referendum when her cabinet team met in Edinburgh on Tuesday morning.

Her spokesman said afterwards: "There was a discussion led by the first minister on an independence referendum and related issues.

"That forms part of the process she laid out after the election and she will continue to consult with government and party colleagues, and will lay out her views on the way forward in due course."

When asked if this would be before Holyrood breaks up for the summer recess at the close of business on Thursday of next week, he stated: "I think it is likely before then."

The spokesman added there was not "an exact timetable" for when any announcement would be made.

'Best way forward'

In the immediate aftermath of the general election, Ms Sturgeon conceded her plans for a second independence referendum were "undoubtedly" a factor in the results.

She said at the time: 'We will reflect on these results, we will listen to voters and we will consider very carefully the best way forward for Scotland, a way forward that is in the interests of all of Scotland."

Scottish Secretary David Mundell said at the weekend that he can see "no circumstances" under which an independence referendum could be held before the Holyrood elections in 2021.

Responding the comments by Ms Sturgeon's spokesman, Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "It's welcome that Nicola Sturgeon will set out her thinking in the next couple of weeks.

"She now has to tell Scots what they want and need to hear - that plans for a second referendum on independence are unequivocally off the table."

Labour and the Liberal Democrats also called on Ms Sturgeon to shelve her plans - arguing that another referendum was not wanted by most Scottish voters.

And Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Will Rennie said: "After a clear message from the electorate a few weeks ago the first minister must take independence off the table or be seen to be ignoring the will of the people of Scotland."