MSPs expected to back calls for IndyRef2

MSPs are expected to back calls for a second independence referendum. Credit: PA

MSPs are expected to back Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum in a vote at Holyrood on Tuesday.

A two-day debate over whether the First Minister should seek permission to hold another ballot between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 started in the Scottish Parliament last week but was halted as news of the terror attack at Westminster emerged.

The vote was delayed but will be held on Tuesday, with the Scottish Greens expected to help the minority Scottish Government pass its motion asking for a mandate to take forward discussions with the UK Government on the details of a section 30 order, the mechanism to transfer the legal powers for a vote.

Scottish Conservative, Labour and Liberal Democrat politicians have made clear they will vote against another referendum.

On Monday Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May clashed over the timing of a second Scottish independence referendum during talks about the Brexit timetable in Scotland.

Nicola Sturgeon and Theresa May clashed over the timing of a second independence referendum. Credit: PA

First Minister Ms Sturgeon said the Prime Minister confirmed the terms of the UK's divorce from the EU and the details of a new free trade deal will be clear within an "18 month to two-year timeframe".

Ms May is opposed to Scottish voters going to the polls between autumn 2018 and spring 2019, as Ms Sturgeon has proposed.

The Prime Minister said a referendum during that period would be "unfair" to voters because they would not have all the necessary information to make a choice.

''I think it makes it very difficult for the Prime Minister to maintain a rational opposition to a referendum in the timescale I have set out,'' Ms Sturgeon said.

When she opened the referendum debate last Tuesday, the First Minister told the Scottish Parliament it would be ''wrong, unfair and utterly unsustainable'' for the UK Government to block her request.

About 62% of Scottish voters backed remain in the EU referendum in June 2016, and the SNP manifesto for last year's Holyrood elections made clear another ballot on independence should take place if there were a ''material change in circumstances'' from the previous ballot in 2014.

The example cited was for Scotland to be removed from the EU against its wishes.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson insisted the majority of Scots did not want another referendum now.

''This referendum may be the First Minister's priority. It is not mine. Nor that of my party,'' she said.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale also opposed a second vote: ''Brexit isn't the motivation for another referendum, it's just the latest excuse."