NICOLA Sturgeon has ruled out a second referendum on Scotland’s membership of the EU while demanding another on its membership of the UK.

The First Minister said it was not her policy to hold a stand-alone vote on reversing Brexit if Scotland became independent in 2026, a decade after the first EU vote. 

However she said she wanted to rerun the independence referendum by 2023, or nine years after the first Union vote. 

Her comments came as she launched the SNP manifesto today, which said a vote for independence would mean “escape from Brexit”.

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If an independent Scotland did rejoin the EU it would raise profound issues about currency, borders and trade with the UK - issues likely to dominate any EURef2 campaign. 

But Ms Sturgeon insisted holding a separate vote on rejoining was “not my policy”.

She said the party's previous support for a second EU vote had been justified by the circumstances at the time, and intended to prevent Brexit.

Scotland voted 55-45 in favour of staying in the UK in 2014 and 62-38 in favour of staying in the EU in 2016.

However the 52-48 UK-wide vote for Brexit saw Scotland  taken out the EU regardless.

In the run-up to Brexit, the SNP called repeatedly for a second EU referendum, despite a third of Yes voters also voting Leave.


In March 2019, Ms Sturgeon spoke at a rally for the pro-European People's Vote campaign in London, calling for a new referendum

In its manifesto for the December 2019 general election, the SNP said: “We will work with others across Scotland and the UK to escape from Brexit.  In a UK context, we will support a second EU referendum with Remain on the ballot paper. And if it is the only alternative to a ‘no deal’ Brexit, we will support the revocation of Article 50.”

However its Holyrood election manifesto omitted mention of a second EU referendum.

Instead it said: “The people of Scotland voted decisively to remain within the European Union and we firmly believe that EU membership is the best option for Scotland.

“Brexit undoubtedly changes the way that Scotland engages with the EU, but it will not change the EU’s importance to Scotland, nor our commitment to rejoining the EU as soon  as possible.”

Asked about the timing of Indyref2 and independence, Ms Sturgeon said she wanted the former to be by the end of 2023, Covid permitting, or nine years after the first referendum, with the first elections to an independent parliament in 2026.

She was then asked when she expected an independent Scotland could rejoin the EU and if rejoining would only happen after a second EU referendum vote.

She said: “That’s not my policy. The second EU referendum we talked about before was to try at the eleventh hour Scotland being dragged out the EU and then out of the transition period against our will. Unfortunately that didn’t prove to be possible.

“In terms of timing re-entry to the EU, obviously we will seek to discuss that with the EU as we get closer to that choice that people have to make.

"I’m not going to put a number of years on that right now, but there are many voices.. within the EU who do not think this would be a lengthy period for Scotland.

“We are not an accession country in the same way as countries seeking to join the EU for the first time would be. We are a country that has been in the EU until very recently for decades, has complied with all the rules and regulations of EU membership.”

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She added: “One of the reasons I thought a second EU referendum became something that could be justified was that the implementation of the Brexit vote was a disaster.

“That all stemmed from the fact that people were asked to vote in that Brexit referendum without really knowing what Brexit meant, without knowing what form of relationship with the EU would replace membership for the UK, and that’s why nobody then could fiend a ay of implementing it safely and effectively.

“I don’t intend that to be the case for independence.

"Just as in 2014 people had a detailed prospectus on which to base their vote. That’s my intention in a future independence referendum too.

"That will involve frank answers about all of the questions people have, including what we see as the journey back to European Union membership.”


Asked if Indyref2 would therefore be a double referendum on both leaving the UK and rejoining the EU, Ms Sturgeon said: “We’ll set out exactly the prospectus for independence in an independence referendum. But the vast majority of people in Scotland want to be in the EU.” 

Asked how she could know the wishes of Scots in 2016 would be the same 10 years later, Ms Sturgeon said recent opinion polls showed no evidence people had changed their minds.

“When we have the independence referendum we will set out the prospectus then. We will take account of the up-to-date position on a whole range of things.

“But if you’re asking me right now whether I foresee public opinion in Scotland on whether or not Scotland be in the EU changing then I don’t, because it hasn’t changed in the years since the Brexit referendum. If anything Scotland is stronger in its view.”