Opposition leaders in Holyrood have branded Nicola Sturgeon’s referendum demand “irresponsible” and “divisive”.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said the first minister has decided to “double down on division and uncertainty” by putting Scotland through another secession campaign.
Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale and Willie Rennie, the leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, said another referendum will damage the economy and segregate society further.
Ms Sturgeon said she will seek Holyrood’s approval for a section 30 order, which would enable Scotland to hold indyref2 if approved by Westminster. The Scottish Greens say they will vote for the order, which gives the first minister the pro-independence majority in the parliament she needs.
Ms Davidson said: “The first minister’s proposal offers Scotland the worst of all worlds.
“Her timetable would force people to vote blind on the biggest political decision a country could face.
“This is utterly irresponsible and has been taken by the first minister purely for partisan political reasons.”
Ms Dugdale added: “Scotland is already divided enough. We do not want to be divided again, but that is exactly what another independence referendum would do.”
Mr Rennie said: “There is no wide public support for a new and divisive referendum.
“Scottish Liberal Democrats stood on a manifesto to oppose a divisive referendum and we will do that.”
In a direct appeal to Ms Sturgeon in an interview on Sky News, Scottish Secretary David Mundell said: “Politics isn’t a game, take a step back be the First Minister of Scotland not just the leader of the SNP and look at what needs to be done to get the best possible deal as we go into these unprecedented negotiations.”
UKIP’s David Coburn, one of Scotland’s six MEPs, said the prospect of a second independence referendum between the autumn 2018 and spring 2019 is “utterly preposterous”.
He added: “The UK will still be in negotiations with the EU at this time. The SNP seem to wish to cause maximum disruption, uncertainty and overall mayhem.”
Former first minister Alex Salmond said he is in “absolutely no doubt there will be a resounding vote in favour of independence”.