Nicola Sturgeon shelves plans for second Scottish referendum

In a change to her previous timetable of Autumn 2018 to Spring 2019, she empathised with voters who may feel it was too soon to reconsider the decision taken in the 2014 independence referendum. It won 35 of Scotland's 59 seats, down from 56 two years earlier.

On Tuesday, Scotland's pro-independence leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, was forced to back down in her latest bid for a new plebiscite.

Sturgeon and her party had warned Prime Minister Theresa May that following the divisive Brexit vote, where 62 percent of Scotland opted to remain in the European Union, she would be seeking permission to call a second independence referendum.

May has refused to give her permission for Scotland to hold a referendum before the end of the Brexit process, and under British law, the PM in London must authorize the poll.

She said she would look at the plan again in autumn 2018 when the outlines of the deal that Britain is to strike in the Brexit negotiations become clear.

"We will, in good faith, pursue best deal for Scotland".

She was clear that independence is still very much on the table and that she believes a vote is "likely" before the next Scottish election in 2021. In the days after the election she acknowledged that her insistence on a second independence referendum had lost the SNP votes.

"I'll be seeking agreement of (the Scottish Parliament) to make a statement later today on the way forward for Scotland after the General Election", Sturgeon said in a tweet.

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She added that she intends to build "maximum support" for the proposals her party set out at the end of 2016 - which argued for both the United Kingdom and Scotland to remain part of the European single market with "substantial new powers" for Holyrood.

A Downing Street spokeswoman said: "We have always been clear that now is not the time for a second independence referendum and that remains our position".

Scotland can only hold a legally binding referendum on independence with the approval of the Westminster Parliament. "The mandate we have is beyond doubt, but deciding exactly how and when to exercise it is a matter of judgment".

Ms Sturgeon has faced calls from Unionist opposition parties to completely drop her campaign for another referendum and to instead focus on improving Scotland's public services.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "The First Minister is digging her heels in, putting her fingers in her ears and pressing on regardless".

The First Minister has been reflecting on her plans for a second vote following the General Election.

Holyrood's consent will also be sought on the UK Government's Great Repeal Bill - the legislation which aims to turn European Union laws into UK laws.

  • Sonia Alvarado