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SNP's Nicola Sturgeon calls for second Scotland independence referendum in Autumn 2018

Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second independence referendum.

The SNP leader said it could take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

At a press conference on Monday, she said Scotland was at an "important cross roads," which Scotland had not chosen.

"In my view it is important that Scotland is able to exercise the right to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now, but before it is too late to decide our own path.

"For better, for worse," she said, "the future of Britain looks very different to what it did two years ago."

Since the UK vote to leave the European Union, Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said a second independence referendum is "highly likely".

Scots voted 62% to 38% to remain the EU while the UK as a whole voted to leave.

Ms Sturgeon said: "The timing of the Brexit negotiations are not within the control of the Scottish Government. However, we must plan on the basis of what we do know now and what we know is that on the timetable set out by the Prime Minister, the shape of the Brexit deal will become clear in the autumn of next year ahead of ratification votes by other EU countries.

"That is therefore the earliest point at which a referendum would be appropriate."

She said that given the "collapse of the Labour party" there could be a "prolonged period" of Conservative rule until at least 2030 and of power being centralised in London.

"It is not just our position in Europe that is at stake," she said, "what is at stake is the type of country we will become."

She said she would work hard to protect Scotland's interests in the EU exit negotiations, but doing nothing was not an option. She said her appeals to the UK government for compromise had been met with a "brick wall of intransigence".

She added: "Not only is there no UK wide agreement way forward, but the UK government has not moved an inch.

"Leaving us not just facing Brexit, but a hard Brexit."

She said legislation would be proposed in the Scottish parliament next week. The final say, however, on if an referendum can take place has to come from Westminster.

"We know Brexit has changed everything," she said.

"Having a referendum at the time when the Brexit deal is known will make it a decision for all on what path we take.

"These steps ensure Scotland's future will be decided by the people of Scotland and it will be Scotland choice."

It is widely expected Prime Minister Theresa May will trigger Article 50, signalling the beginning of the exit negotiations, this week, possibly on Tuesday.

Ahead of Mrs Sturgeon's speech, an SNP spokesman said: "It is no surprise that polls continue to show support for independence higher than in 2014 - we are being driven ever closer towards an economically catastrophic hard Brexit by a right-wing Tory government who think they can do what they want to Scotland and get away with it.

"If the Tories' hard Brexit obsession continues, the trend seen in this poll is only set to continue once Theresa May triggers Article 50."

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