SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has dialled down talk of a second independence vote at her manifesto launch

Mark Sands
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The UK will head to the polls on 8 June. (Source: Getty)

A second Scottish independence referendum could be pushed back to "the end of the Brexit process", Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has suggested at the launch of her election plans.

The Scottish National Party launched their manifesto earlier today with promises to introduce a 50 per cent tax rate for high earners and invest an extra £118bn into public services.

And Sturgeon focused the SNP attack on Conservative spending plans, softening her rhetoric on a new independence referendum, having previously demanded a vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019.

Speaking in Perth today she appeared to step back from a demand that a vote be held before final terms are agreed with Europe, instead calling for a vote "at the end of the Brexit process", implying that a referendum could be delayed into 2019 or beyond.

However, Sturgeon added: "If the SNP wins a majority of Scottish seats in this election, that will further reinforce our mandate.

"And in these circumstances, any continued Tory attempts to block Scotland having a choice - when the time is right and the options are clear - would be democratically unsustainable."

Read more: SNP blasts "scared" Tories which won't "dare" stand in way of democracy

The Scottish parliament voted in favour of Sturgeon's plans to seek a second referendum in March, but Sturgeon has since admitted that Scotland could be forced to seek a "phased" return to EU membership.

Part of the reason for Sturgeon's hesitance may be that it remains unclear whether Scotland would actually back independence.

Polls last month showed that only just over a third of Scots backed Sturgeon's timeline for a vote, while Ruth Davidson's Scottish Conservatives have been making headway while campaigning as an explicitly unionist party.

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