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Referendum must be held if MSPs back it: Sturgeon

By Lynsey Bews

Preventing a second Scottish independence referendum would be "democratically indefensible" if it is backed by a majority of Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs), First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The SNP leader stressed Scots must be given an alternative to the Theresa's May 'hard Brexit', which will take the UK out of both the European Union and the single market.

In last year's referendum, almost two thirds (62%) of voters north of the border backed keeping the UK in the EU.

Ms Sturgeon is now pressing for another vote on independence to be held.

A parliamentary motion seeking support to call for permission for a second ballot has now been published and will be the focus of two days of debate in the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh.

The Scottish Government wants a referendum to take place between autumn next year and spring 2019, when it says there will be clarity over the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.

Prime Minister Theresa May has said "now is not the time" for another vote, and has indicated that the UK Government would reject the SNP's preferred timetable.

Although Ms Sturgeon leads a minority government, the support of the Scottish Greens means the motion is expected to be passed on Wednesday.

The First Minister said: "If MSPs pass this motion this week, then the Prime Minister's position of blocking a referendum and forcing through a hard Brexit without giving the people a choice will be democratically indefensible.

"I agree with the Prime Minister when she says that there needs to be clarity about the implications of Brexit before the people of Scotland can choose - that is precisely why we are proposing to hold the vote at the point where we know, through the Prime Minister's own statements, we will have that clarity.

"Ultimately, this crucial decision over our future should not be made unilaterally by me, or by the Prime Minister - it should be made by the people of Scotland, and I call on Parliament to give the people that choice."

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