Nicola Sturgeon has said that she will not force an immediate decision on independence before the terms of Brexit are clear but has said that her government cannot wait indefinitely. 

The First Minister was speaking on Good Morning Scotland ahead of the SNP Spring conference this weekend in Edinburgh

She insisted that the decision to give an update on Scottish independence to MSPs was not timed to appease members of the SNP. 

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Speaking to the BBC, Nicola Sturgeon said: "The timing is not to do with the SNP conference if you think about it, the European Council met when the Scottish Parliament had gone into recess, extended the UK's membership, and I made a statement when the Scottish Parliament came back out of its Easter recess. 

"Had I not done so I guess I would have had opposition parties clamouring to ask why not. 

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"I had given a commitment a long time ago to update the Scottish Parliament as soon as we had any kind of clarity, and when we got clarity about a six-month extension that's exactly what I did.

"I am not suggesting an immediate choice on independence, but I think we now have to start planning for that if that option is to be there within this term of Parliament."

When questioned as why the First Minister didn't bring legislation forward a year ago and why the First Minister had chosen now specifically for an update, the First Minister said: "We thought the UK would be out of the EU just now, I accept that the last year or so have not exactly been the most predictable times and I've been no more able to see what the UK government was likely to do, what a mess it was likely to make of things than anybody else has. 

"We have that six-month window now, the SNP will continue to work with others across the UK to try to find a way out of this Brexit mess for all of the UK. 

"But if that can't be done, Scotland needs to have a choice. Do we want the damage of Brexit and Brexit is going to do real damage for a long time to come, to our economy, to our society, to our place in the world, or do we want to choose an alternative path as an independent European country."

The First Minister also reiterated that she hoped Brexit doesn't happen but she was planning on the basis that the UK was going to leave the European Union and insisted that the timeframe of 2021 was possible. 

She added: "The last thing I am going to do right now though is to narrow Scotland's options. The important thing is over this next period with such fundamental change happening in the UK that is not in Scotland's interests, is that Scotland has maximum options to chart its own way forward."

On the possibility of a referendum by 2021, the SNP leader said: "Of course it's possible. We've set out on Wednesday that the Scottish Government will now bring forward the framework legislation to put the rules of a referendum on the statute book, we will have that legislation should parliament vote for it, and I believe there is a majority that will do so in parliament. 

"It will be on the statute book by the end of the year, and we will then seek to negotiate with the UK Government the transfer of power that would give the undoubted legitimacy to that referendum."  

Speaking on a poll that was published today from Survation, Nicola Sturgeon said there was a majority that wanted a referendum and her job was to explain why it would be a mistake to wait too long to carry out a referendum.

Addressing comments made by David Lidington who said that the UK would not allow a referendum, the First Minister said that there was a mandate from a landslide Holyrood election and said "this is a Government that can't exactly be described as consistent and is not necessarily going to be in office for very much longer."

"It's a government that's very much impossible to have any meaningful negotiation with." 

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When asked if a softer Brexit would delay or cancel a second independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon said: "If we are taken out of the EU I think people in Scotland should have a choice of whether we want that or whether we want to have an alternative path as an independent country."