Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence in protest at Theresa May’s “hard Brexit .”
The First Minister said the vote would take place between Autumn 2018 and Spring 2019.
She said she had tried to reach a compromise agreement with the UK Government but her efforts had been rebuffed by the Prime Minister.
“As we stand on the eve of Article 50 being triggered, the UK goverment has not moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise or agreement.
“All of our efforts at compromise have been met with a brick wall of intransigence.
“UK membership of the single market was ruled out with no prior consultation with the Scottish Government or with the other devolved administrations, leaving us facing not just Brexit, but a hard Brexit.
“And far from any prospect of significant new powers for the Scottish Parliament, the UK Government is becoming ever more assertive in its intention to muscle in on the powers we already have. The language of partnership has gone, completely,” she said.
Ms Sturgeon said the Scottish now faced a choice between a hard Brexit or a vote on independence.
“The people of Scotland must be offered a choice between a hard Brexit and becoming an independent country,” she said.
Ms Sturgeon said she would seek a Section 30 order next week from the Scottish Parliament authorising the independence referendum.
“It will give the Scottish people a choice about the kind of change we want.
“Scotland’s future will be decided by the people of Scotland. It will be Scotland’s choice. I trust the Scottish people to make that choice,” she said.
She added: “I will continue to stand up for Scotland’s interests during the process of Brexit negotiations.
“But I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process – a choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”
The First Minister said the mandate for holding a second poll was “beyond doubt.”
“If I ruled out a referendum, I would be deciding – completely unilaterally – that Scotland will follow the UK to a hard Brexit come-what-may, no matter how damaging to our economy and our society it turns out to be,” she said.
Scotland voted by 55% to 45% three years ago to stay in the United Kingdom