The Scottish National party will launch the process for holding a second referendum on Scottish independence next week, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Speaking from Bute House, the first minister’s official residence in Edinburgh, Ms Sturgeon said “it is important that Scotland is able to choose our own future at a time when the options are clearer than they are now, but before it is too late to decide our own path”.

She said autumn 2018 to spring 2019 would likely be the best time to hold the vote.

She said the Scottish National party’s mandate for a second referendum “is beyond doubt” after the result of last June’s Brexit vote, in which 62 per cent of Scottish voters backed remain.

The prime minister’s office admitted last week that they expect Ms Sturgeon to seek a referendum next autumn, though the government would fight to delay any vote until after Britain leaves the EU.

Ms Sturgeon said she and the SNP had worked “really hard to find agreement” with the government in Westminster, but said “the UK has not moved even an inch towards compromise”, and that the “collapse” of the Labour party has allowed the Conservative government to harden its position.

She added:

Even at this late stage I am not turning my back on further discussions should the UK government change its mind and decide it is willing to agree to our compromise proposals and in any event I will do everything I possibly can to ensure that Scotland’s interests are represented in the EU negotiations that lie ahead, but I cannot pretend to the Scottish people that a compromise agreement looks remotely likely given the hardline response from the prime minister so far.

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