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Sturgeon to set out position on second referendum

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

Nicola Sturgeon is expected to set out her position on a second independence referendum at Holyrood later on Tuesday.

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

She tweeted on Tuesday morning: "I'll be seeking agreement of @ScotParl to make a statement later today on the way forward for Scotland after the General Election."

Ms Sturgeon had been due to give a speech on Brexit to the Association of British Insurers in London but her appearance was cancelled on Tuesday morning.

Her plans to make a statement follow reports at the weekend suggesting she is to put her demand for a second independence referendum on hold to instead focus on delivering a "soft Brexit".

The First Minister set out her timetable for a second referendum in March, saying a vote should be held between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 to give Scots - the majority of whom voted to stay in the EU - an alternative to Brexit.

But she has been ''reflecting'' on the plan after the snap General Election saw her party's share of the vote fall from 50% to 37% as it lost 21 Westminster seats.

The issue was discussed at the Scottish Government cabinet meeting last week, with Ms Sturgeon said to be ''likely'' to set out her position before Holyrood goes into recess on Thursday.

Her proposals for a statement also follow confirmation of a deal between the Conservatives and the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) on Monday.

The agreement, which will see the DUP back Theresa May's minority government in key votes, includes £1 billion in new funding for Northern Ireland.

Ms Sturgeon described the deal - which will have no knock-on funding for Scotland - as ''the worst kind of pork-barrel politics''.

She said: ''In concluding this grubby, shameless deal, the Tories have shown that they will stop at nothing to hold on to power - even sacrificing the very basic principles of devolution."

The First Minister has been pressing Mrs May to give greater involvement to the devolved governments in the Brexit process since last month's election.

Her key demands include a new "four-nation" approach which would see the re-establishment of the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) on EU Negotiations and the establishment of a cross-party advisory group.

It has been confirmed the UK Government will consult the devolved administrations on a key part of Brexit legislation.

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

Meanwhile, the Scottish Greens have urged Ms Sturgeon not to back down on her referendum bid.

The party's MSPs helped the minority Scottish Government win a vote to demand powers to hold another ballot.

In a letter to the First Minister, the Greens' co-conveners Maggie Chapman and Patrick Harvie said: "Following the 2017 General Election, it is clear that some are making the case that the relative fortunes of the political parties in Scotland give a basis for claiming that the right of people in Scotland to decide their constitutional future has been 'rejected'.

"We cannot accept this and we urge you not to."