NICOLA Sturgeon has said she would "almost certainly" call an independence referendum if she wins the Holyrood election and Scotland is then dragged out of the EU against its will.

The First Minister stopped short of saying the scenario of Scotland being forced out of Europe on the back of votes from the rest of the UK would be a definite trigger for another vote, but said it was "very highly likely" that a second referendum will be held.

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The SNP manifesto states that Holyrood should have the right to hold a referendum if there is "clear and sustained evidence" that the public has changed its mind over the question or there is "a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014". It cites Scotland being taken out of the EU, despite voting to stay in, as a specific example.

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Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said that even if the SNP wins the election, it would not have a mandate to hold another independence vote.

She said: "To raise Brexit as a supposed trigger doesn't hold water. The question about Britain's membership of the EU was raised during the independence referendum campaign - and we voted decisively to remain part of the UK."

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