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No second independence referendum in 2017, Nicola Sturgeon says

Scotland's First Minister has ruled out holding a second referendum on independence this year.

Nicola Sturgeon has said another ballot is "highly likely" after a majority of Scots voted to stay in the European Union while the UK as a whole opted for Brexit.

However, she told STV News a second vote would not be held in 2017.

"There is not going to be an independence referendum in 2017, I don't think there is anybody who thinks that is the case," she said during an interview with the broadcaster.

The Scottish Government has already drafted legislation for a vote, which it says will be used if it concludes independence is the only way to protect Scotland's place in Europe.

A consultation on the proposed legislation closes on Wednesday.

The Government has also published a paper on options aimed at keeping Scotland in the European single market.

Ms Sturgeon has urged the UK Government to opt for a so-called soft Brexit and retain its membership of the trade bloc.

Failing that, she wants a special arrangement to allow Scotland to stay in the single market even if the rest of the UK leaves.

The First Minister's latest comments regarding the timing of a second referendum follow her insistence at the weekend that she is not bluffing on calling a re-run of the 2014 ballot if Scotland's position is ignored.

She has indicated that a soft Brexit could take the issue off the table in the short-term.

She told BBC One's Andrew Marr Show that UK ministers will be "making a big mistake if they think that I'm in any way bluffing''.

She said "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?"

"That's the case that in those circumstances, I think, it would be right for Scotland to have the opportunity to decide," she said.

Asked if she was looking at a referendum ''much quicker'' than in five or 10 years' time if there was a hard Brexit, she said: ''I would think, yes. But let me not get away from this point, I'm putting to Theresa May a compromise solution.''

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said: "This is an empty gesture from a First Minister who is leaving Scotland in limbo.

"If she's serious about allowing Scotland to move on from constitutional navel-gazing, she should ditch her draft referendum bill immediately."

Scottish Labour deputy leader Alex Rowley said: "While it is welcome that Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out another independence referendum in 2017, this doesn't come close to ending the uncertainty.

"The First Minister should rule out forcing another independence referendum on the people of Scotland altogether, not just for the next twelve months."

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