Monday 9 May 2016 4:01 am

Does the SNP’s failure to secure an overall majority in the Scottish parliament elections take a second independence referendum off the table?

Tom Welsh is City A.M.'s business features editor.

Tom Welsh is City A.M.'s business features editor.

Jack Montgomery, Scottish spokesman for Leave.EU, says Yes.

The chances of Brexit leading to a second Scottish independence referendum were always vanishingly small. While the solidification of “the 45 per cent” around the SNP might have allowed Nicola Sturgeon to tear chunks out of an ailing and decrepit Scottish Labour Party in first past the post elections, there was never much evidence that enthusiasm for separation had increased. When the oil revenue, which was supposed to underpin independence, turned out to have been overestimated to the tune of 6,000 per cent, wavering No voters were reassured they had made the right decision. Now, with the Scottish Conservatives and Unionist Party making gains against all expectations, it's pretty clear that not even Brexit will be shifting public opinion any time soon. Besides, with Brexit set to transfer a raft of new powers from Brussels to the Scottish Parliament, an independence referendum fought on the basis of leaving the UK so Scotland could give powers back to an unelected overseas Commission was always destined to unravel.

Dr Alistair Clark, senior lecturer in politics at Newcastle University, says No.

Without a Scottish parliament majority, SNP pressure for a second independence referendum may appear unlikely. It was also not in their manifesto. But it cannot be ruled out. With six Greens in Parliament, the pro-independence group is actually larger now than before the elections. The SNP still has a huge membership, almost all of which joined in the aftermath of the 2014 referendum. There also remains an active pro-independence camp in other organisations. Both will keep the pressure on the SNP leadership for a referendum. The Brexit referendum could lead to Scotland voting to remain, England to leave. This would create additional pressure. It is a question of when, however. Nicola Sturgeon talked about the need to persuade people in her speech from her official residence on Friday afternoon. How the SNP pursues this will be key to when any second referendum will occur. It will have to continue to reach out beyond the already convinced, and display new thinking about the implications.

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