Nicola Sturgeon is set to lay out her Government’s plan for potentially holding a referendum on Scottish independence.
The First Minister launched the latest campaign for another vote to leave the UK last week, publishing a “scene-setting” paper – the first in a series that will make up a new prospectus for an independent Scotland.
Despite expected policy announcements in the coming months for a post-referendum Scotland, the path to the vote looks less clear.
The UK Government has repeatedly rejected a section 30 order – a clause in the Scotland Act that would allow for a legal referendum to be held – with little indication of any change in mindset from Westminster.
The SNP made clear last year it would seek to pass legislation for another referendum and would fight any legal challenge from the UK Government to strike it down.
During her speech from Bute House last week, the First Minister said she would deliver a “significant update” to Parliament before summer recess, and it is understood an announcement is due next Tuesday afternoon, provided it is agreed to by the cross-party group which sets the parliamentary timetable.
In her speech, Sturgeon acknowledged there were legal “challenges” stemming from her plans to hold a referendum in October next year.
“What would be unfair to independence supporters, in fact unfair to the country, would be for me to stand here and pretend that there’s not challenges to navigate through,” she said.
She added that her party had been given a “mandate”, along with the Scottish Greens, for another vote.
“I intend to honour that, that is what democracy demands but there are challenges to work through if we are to have what I think is essential to deliver independence – a lawful process,” she said.
“And it would be less fair to people if I didn’t say that I’m taking all of that seriously and behaving responsibly.”
The announcement drew the ire of Scottish Tory constitution spokesman Donald Cameron, who said Scots were “sick and tired of the SNP’s obsession with independence”.
The SNP have been the largest party in every election in Scotland for more than a decade.
“In the last week before summer recess, people want to hear their MSPs discussing the issues that really matter to them – not yet another speech on independence from Nicola Sturgeon,” Cameron added.
“With the cost of living spiralling, Scotland’s NHS facing an unprecedented crisis, and our economy still struggling to recover from the pandemic, this debate is an unjustifiable waste of time.
“Once again, Nicola Sturgeon has blatantly ignored Scotland’s real priorities to promote an unwanted second referendum.”