A FUNDAMENTAL choice on the country’s future is “looming for the people of Scotland”, Nicola Sturgeon has said, after “frustrating” talks with the UK government on Brexit.

In another strong sign that a second independence referendum is coming, the First Minister pledged to “save Scotland from Brexit”, and warned time was running out for Theresa May to take the SNP plan to keep Scotland in the EU single market seriously.

Reacting to a question about business from Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson at First Minister’s Questions, Ms Sturgeon said she wanted firms to keep trading in the single market.

Read more: Labour MP Ian Murray to defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote against triggering Brexit countdown

She said: “I am determined to save Scotland from Brexit. It is not just the case that the Tories are running towards Brexit. They want to drag Scotland kicking and screaming over that Brexit cliff edge, and I am determined that they are not going to get away with it.”

After Mrs May ruled out staying in the EU single market to control migration, Ms Sturgeon said on Tuesday a second referendum was “all but inevitable”

The Prime Minister also said she would consider the SNP plan to keep Scotland in the single market, but Ms Sturgeon told MSPs the UK government had yet to take the idea seriously.

“That exposes talk of a partnership of equals in the UK as nothing more than empty rhetoric.

“We should be in doubt that time is fast running out for the UK Government to convince us that it cares one jot about Scotland’s interests. If it does not do so, Scotland will face a choice.

Read more: Labour MP Ian Murray to defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote against triggering Brexit countdown

“Do we go down the damaging path set out by Theresa May… or do we decide to take our future into our own hands and take control of our country’s future?”

She added: “Sooner or later, there comes a fundamental choice. Do we want to continue, as a Parliament and as a country, always having to mitigate the impacts of decisions that are out of our hands and made by a Tory Government at Westminster that a majority in this country do not vote for, or do we want to take into our own hands control of our country’s future?

“That is the choice that is looming for the people of Scotland.”

Her comments chimed with those of SNP Brexit Secretary Michael Russell, who warned “the clock is ticking” after a meeting with UK Brexit Secretary David Davis in Whitehall.

Mr Russell said the joint ministerial committee (JMC), which discussed the Scottish plan for the first time, had been “frustrating” and further evidence of why a second referendum was likely.

He hinted Scottish ministers could walk away unless they secured concessions.

It had been “a difficult discussion", he said, during which he had made clear “Scotland must not be treated with contempt but as an equal partner in the negotiating process”.

Read more: Labour MP Ian Murray to defy Jeremy Corbyn and vote against triggering Brexit countdown

He said: “The people of Scotland overwhelmingly rejected a hard Brexit and it is absolutely crucial that this is respected to avoid an economic catastrophe.

“Our focus now is to ensure the UK Government takes seriously our objective of keeping Scotland in the European Single Market.

“They need to demonstrate that this is the case because the clock is ticking. The views and economic interests of the people of Scotland cannot be disregarded and brushed aside.

“We are not going to just put up with this. But we are not going to be put in a position where we walk away from this unless we are absolutely sure that nothing can be done."

Borrowing a line from Ms Davidson, Mrs May yesterday said the 62-38 vote in Scotland to Remain in the EU did not equal a vote for a second independence referendum.

Writing in The Times, the PM said: "While I respect the views of all those in Scotland who wanted the UK to remain in the EU, I do not believe their votes represent a wish to separate Scotland from the rest of the United Kingdom or rerun the independence referendum.”

She also said she was determined to work with the Scottish government in the Brexit process.

The UK Supreme Court is due to declare on Tuesday whether Westminster must vote on triggering Article 50 - the Scottish Government has argued Holyrood should have a vote too.

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has confirmed he will order his MPs to vote for Article 50.