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Autumn 2018 would be a “common sense” time for Scotland to have a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In an interview with the BBC, Scotland’s first minister said she had not decided whether to push for another vote on leaving the UK, but insisted she was not bluffing with demands for concessions for Scotland on the terms of Brexit.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments will fuel expectations that Scotland, where 62 per cent of voters opposed leaving the EU, is edging close to another plebiscite.

Her predecessor as Scottish National party leader and first minister Alex Salmond has repeatedly said that autumn next year is the most likely time for another referendum, because it would allow for a decision before Brexit takes effect.

That could smooth the process of securing EU membership for an independent Scotland.

However, the UK government has yet to say whether it would allow a second independence referendum, and some Conservatives have said UK prime minister Theresa May should withhold approval until the UK is outside the EU.

Asked whether she agreed autumn 2018 was a likely date for a referendum, Ms Sturgeon told the BBC she was “not ruling anything out”.

“Within that window…when the, the sort of outline of a UK deal, becomes clear on the UK exiting the EU, I think would be the common sense time for Scotland to have that choice, if that is the road we choose to go down,” she said.

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