SCOTLAND is almost certainly heading for another referendum on independence, with Theresa May giving the strongest indication yet that Britain will opt for a hard Brexit.

Yesterday morning Nicola Sturgeon insisted she was not bluffing when it came to calling a second referendum. It followed an interview on Friday in which she said a soft Brexit, where Scotland remains in the single market, would take that vote on self-determination “off the table”.

This was seen by the opposition parties and some commentators as a softening of the SNP leader’s position, though, her colleagues claimed it was not at all different to what was laid out in the Scottish Government’s proposals published before of Christmas.

Loading article content

Tory MSP Murdo Fraser had tweeted: “SNP Brexit stance: Summer: We must stay in EU or it’s indyref2.

Autumn: We must stay in single market.

Winter: Must be ‘Soft’ Brexit.

Spring:?”

But Sturgeon told BBC One’s Andrew Marr Show “they will be making a big mistake if they think that I’m in any way bluffing”, because leaving the European Union created a “fundamental question” for Scotland.

“If we’re going to be ignored, if our voice has been completely cast aside, our interests cast aside, then that can happen on anything,” she said.

“And we have to ask ourselves in Scotland, are we happy to have the direction of our country, the kind of country we want, to be determined by a right-wing Conservative government perhaps for the next 20 years, or do we want to take control of our own future?

“And that’s the case that in those circumstances I think it would be right for Scotland to have the opportunity to decide.”

When asked for a timescale, the First Minister indicated that it could even be in the next five years. However, she insisted she was trying first for “a compromise solution.”

The First Minister added: “The UK’s coming out of the European Union ... has enormous implications for Scotland as it does for other parts of the UK.

"It has enormous implications for our economy, for jobs, for living standards, for trade, investment, for the kind of society we are, and I want to play my part in making sure we get the right outcome from that.

“That’s why the Scottish Government has published proposals that we hope are taken seriously, but thus far almost two-thirds of the way to the triggering of Article 50 we know no more about the UK’s position than we did the day after the referendum, and that is increasingly unacceptable.”

But, the First Minister added, “The argument for independence is much bigger than the European Union.”

Later in the day, May, who has previously said she doesn’t want to provide a “running commentary” on EU negotiations and plans, seemed to suggest the UK would be taking a hard Brexit.

The Prime Minister told Sky News it would be impossible for the UK to keep “bits of membership of the EU.”

“We are leaving. We are coming out,” the Tory leader said. “We are not going to be a member of the EU any longer.

“So the question is, what is the right relationship for the UK to have with the European Union when we are outside?

“We will be able to have control of our borders, control of our laws.

“This is what people were voting for on June 23. But of course we still want the best possible deal for us, companies to be able to trade, UK companies to be able to trade in and operate within the European Union and also European companies to be able to trade with the UK and operate within the UK.”

The SNP’s Angus Robertson said the Prime Minster’s interview was “empty”.

He added: “Theresa May wants voters to look the other way while she dithers over Brexit but everyone can see that she has no plan and no ideas.”