Nicola Sturgeon tells Theresa May: Second independence referendum WILL happen
Nicola Sturgeon has insisted "it is a question of not if, but how" a second referendum on Scottish independence is held as she increased the pressure on Theresa May to agree to it.
In a major heightening of tensions between Holyrood and Westminster, the SNP leader told the Prime Minister "the mandate of the Scottish Parliament must be respected and progressed".
Her comments came in a letter to Mrs May demanding the Scottish Parliament be given the legal powers to organise another poll on the break-up of the UK.
MSPs voted 69-59 on Tuesday for a so-called 'Section 30 order' to be granted to Holyrood.
However, the Prime Minister has repeatedly said "now is not the time" for a second referendum while Brexit negotiations are going on.
But in her 939-word letter, Ms Sturgeon said regardless of Mrs May's hardline stance, a fresh vote must take place.
She said given the fact Scotland voted to stay in the EU, alongside the Prime Minister's insistence that the UK will leave the European single market, voters north of the Border must have the opportunity to choose independence.
"In anticipation of your refusal to enter into discussions at this stage, it is important for me to be clear about my position," she wrote.
"It is my firm view that the mandate of the Scottish Parliament must be respected and progressed. The question is not if, but how.
"I hope that will be by constructive discussion between our governments. However, if that is not yet possible, I will set out to the Scottish Parliament the steps I intend to take to ensure that progress is made towards a referendum."
Ms Sturgeon and Mrs May met in a Glasgow hotel earlier this week, but the talks ended in deadlock.
In her letter, the First Minister repeated her claim then that there is no "rational" reason for the Prime Minister to turn down her request.
Ms Sturgeon added: "The decision of the Scottish Parliament has been made in line with the tradition of popular sovereignty in Scotland - that the people of Scotland should be able to determine the form of government most suited to their needs - and with the clear commitment in the manifesto on which my government was re-elected last May.
"I am therefore writing to begin early discussions between our governments to agree an order under section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998 that would enable a referendum to be legislated for by the Scottish Parliament."
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale echoed Mrs May in saying now was not the time for another referendum.
She said: "People across Scotland will be dismayed that Nicola Sturgeon is more focused on re-running the arguments of the past than doing her job of running our public services.
"Scotland doesn’t need or want a second independence referendum.There is absolutely no evidence that another divisive referendum is the will of the people of Scotland."