NICOLA Sturgeon has indicated she will set out her thinking on a second independence referendum within days, after a public split opened at the top of the SNP over its timing.

The First Minister, who has repeatedly delayed an update because of Brexit uncertainty, said she would update Holyrood after MSPs returned from the Easter recess on April 23.

The announcement came amid a high-level rift in the SNP over how to use the six-month extension to Brexit agreed by EU leaders in the small hours of Wednesday morning. 
Ms Sturgeon said the new October 31 deadline should be used for a People’s Vote on remaining in Europe.

However, one of her MPs and a member of the SNP’s ruling body said the priority should be a second independence referendum instead.


Brexit has delayed any announcement on Indyref plans

Western Isles MP Angus Brendan MacNeil said the SNP should not be “kicking the Indyref2 can” down the road and suggested a referendum could be held as soon as August.

READ MORE: SNP split over referendum priority in Brexit delay

He told The Herald: “Theresa May might be kicking the can down the road but the Scottish Independence campaign shouldn’t be kicking the can down the road anymore.
“A campaign should be underway, plans to hold a referendum should be happening, and once a campaign is underway, we then decide on a date.” 

Chris McEleny, the leader of the SNP on Inverclyde Council, and who represents party members on the its ruling National Executive Committee, said Scots should vote on independence in September.

Mr McEleny, whose view is shared by many in the Yes movement, urged the SNP to put the drive for an independence referendum “front and centre” this summer.

Asked about the urgent calls for Indyref2, Ms Sturgeon said: “I’ll set out my thinking on that after the Easter recess. I understand the impatience of people who, like me, believe absolutely that the best future for Scotland is to be independent. The case for independence is stronger than it’s ever been. 

“But we need to do things at the right time and in the right way. Because we’ve got to convince a majority, not just of the SNP, but a majority of the people of Scotland that independence is the best future.”

READ MORE: Alex Salmond takes swipe at SNP leadership over Indyref2​

Although she did not say exactly when after recess she should would update MSPs, the FM has pencilled in the week after next as it is her last opportunity to say something in parliament before the SNP spring conference.

When, in March 2017, Ms Sturgeon first announced a second referendum to offer voters an alternative to Brexit, it was in the week before the SNP’s spring conference.


Theresa May has opposed any plans for a new vote

Announcing a referendum at the conference itself would have looked as if he was driven by party concerns, undermining her message that she was acting in the national interest.

Shortly after Ms Sturgeon called the referendum, Theresa May held a snap election in which the SNP lost a third of its MPs, forcing the First Minister to “reset” her plans.

She promised a “precise timescale” by autumn 2018, when there was supposed to be clarity about Brexit, but it has been delayed by continued uncertainty.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon expresses relief after Brexit extension agreed​

With the UK facing a Tory leadership contest and a general election in the next few months, there is little prospect of Brexit clarity anytime soon.

The Prime Minister is also certain to refuse Holyrood the power to hold a referendum.
However Ms Sturgeon could use a refusal as a campaign tool at the 2021 Holyrood election, citing as more evidence of Westminster ignoring Scotland’s wishes.