IAN Blackford has signalled that a decision on a second independence referendum will not be made until November at the earliest and possibly even later.

The SNP's Westminster leader made clear it would be “presumptuous” to set out a definitive position until the terms of any Brexit deal were known.

This means that Nicola Sturgeon will not be in a position at next month’s SNP conference to give a clear view on Scotland’s constitutional future because the outcome of the Brexit negotiations will still be unknown.

This is likely to disappoint many Nationalists, including those who this weekend will gather in Glasgow for a Hope over Fear Yes rally.

The Scottish Government’s future agenda, published last week, stated: “At the end of the period of negotiation with the EU, and when the terms of Brexit are clearer, we will set out our judgement on the best way forward for Scotland at that time, including our view on the precise timescale for offering people a choice over the country’s future.”

It is widely thought that any deal with Brussels will now not be sealed at the October 18/19 European Council but could come at a special summit pencilled in for November 13.

This will be followed by ratification by parliaments across the EU as well as the so-called "meaningful vote" at Westminster on the final deal, possibly before Christmas.

However, Mr Blackford was clear that, as the informed debate on the economics of independence continued following the publication of the Growth Commission’s report, no decision on when or whether to call for a second independence vote could be made until after the details of a deal were fully known.

He told reporters at a Westminster briefing: “The judgement we have made is we can reflect on what the options are for Scotland once we know the Brexit outcome. Now, some time ago there was an expectation that would happen in October but that is probably unlikely in October…It will be presumptuous of us to give an outline of what we will do until we know what the Brexit destination is.

“There has to be clarity. You can’t do it in a vacuum…We have to be clear what the outcome is going to be…We will know by the end of the year.”

When it was suggested that the First Minister would, therefore, not announce anything definitive at conference, the Highland MP replied: “I understand why people in the SNP and the wider Yes movement, perhaps more widely than Scotland, want to know what the future opportunities will be for having a debate and a formal decision on Scotland’s constitutional future.

“I am grateful there is now an informed debate which is taking place on some of the economics of the question of Scottish independence, let’s continue that debate and that debate can be informed of the circumstances that we know Scotland will be in post-Brexit.”