Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has called for a second Scottish independence referendum “in the earlier part” of her next term.
She told BBC Scotland: “I’ve not put a date on it yet. I have not ruled it out nor I have ruled it in. I think that is right not least because of the challenge the country is facing coming out of and rebuilding from Covid.
“Scotland should have the opportunity to choose whether to become independent in the earlier, rather than the later, part of the next parliament.”
Since the start of the pandemic in March, 14 consecutive polls have returned majority support for Scottish independence.
Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will refuse to transfer the power to hold another referendum from Westminster to Holyrood while he is in Downing Street.
The PM has said that the referendum result in 2014 — in which voters rejected independence by 55 per cent to 45 per cent — still stands.
Ministers have repeatedly earmarked comments at the time from both Sturgeon and her predecessor, Alex Salmond, that the 2014 referendum was a “once in a generation” event.
However, the government’s approach to the pandemic has amplified appetite for a second “indyref”.
Health strategy has been devolved to the four nations in the UK’s battle against coronavirus, whereas economic strategy has been led by Westminster.
When asked what mistakes she had made during her response to the crisis, Sturgeon said some of the early decisions had been based on a “under-developed knowledge” of the virus.
Sturgeon has claimed the political landscape has shifted significantly since 2014, and questioned whether Scotland’s future should be decided by “a Westminster government that seems determined to take us in the wrong direction” or a “Scottish government, of whatever party in the future, that is accountable to the Scottish people”.
She added: “If people in Scotland vote for a referendum, there will be a referendum. Across the Atlantic, even Trump is having to concede the outcome of a fair and free democratic election”.