If the United Kingdom votes to leave the European Union but Scotland votes to stay, a second Scottish independence referendum will "almost certainly" be demanded, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has warned.
Speaking to the BBC, Sturgeon said that Scots would be likely to demand a second referendum if the UK votes to leave, but Scotland doesn't, the UK thereby effectively taking Scotland out of the EU against its will.
The Scottish National Party leader said she would be arguing the case for the UK to stay in, and hopes that it does vote to remain in the 28-member bloc.
Asked directly if Brexit could lead to another Scottish referendum, Sturgeon said: "Almost certainly, I think that would be the demand of people in Scotland. I hope this scenario doesn't arise. I hope the UK as a whole votes to stay in the EU for a whole variety of different reasons."
"But if you cast your mind back to the Scottish referendum, the No campaign then said if Scotland voted Yes then our membership of the EU would be at risk. That was rubbish then, but that was a key argument."
"If, a couple of years later, we find ourselves, having voted to stay in the EU, being taken out against our will, I think there will be many people - including people who voted No in 2014 - who would say the only way to guarantee our EU membership is to be independent. That, I think, is inescapable," she added.
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Today's assertions add weight to comments Sturgeon had previously made, having already indicated she would be very likely to regard the UK voting to leave the EU, but Scotland voting to remain, as a "trigger" justifying a second referendum.
Polls currently suggest that Scottish voters by-and-large have a more favourable view of the EU than the UK as a whole. A recent poll found that some 59 per cent of Scots said they would vote for staying in the 28-member bloc, a 28 point lead. Just 31 per cent of those surveyed support Brexit.
Sturgeon's comments come after Prime Minister David Cameron wrapped up negotiations with his European counterparts late last week and chaired a cabinet meeting yesterday, after which he confirmed the 23 June referendum date.