First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has revealed her plans for Scottish Independence during an address in Holyrood.
The Ministerial Statement on Brexit and Scotland’s Future got under way at 1.30pm.
The SNP leader said that the Scottish Government and the SNP has worked tirelessly to find the best way forward for all of the UK.
Ms Sturgeon added that whatever Scotland’s constitutional status in future, it would be in everyone’s interest to maintain the closest possible relationship with the EU.
She said: “We have done everything possible to help avert the Brexit crisis for the whole UK and we will continue to do so.
“But we must also consider the best way forward for Scotland in the event that the UK does leave the European Union and to ensure that all options remain open to us, the time to do that is now.”
Ms Sturgeon updated Holyrood on Brexit after the European Council granted the UK an extension to Article 50 that will keep the country in the European Union until October 31 at the latest.
The First Minister compared Scotland with other countries in Europe, and said independence would help Scotland to take its future into its own hands.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Of the 27 independent countries that decided the UK’s future at the EU Council two weeks ago, around a dozen are smaller than or similar in size to Scotland.
“Many of these countries are also more prosperous than Scotland.
“With all of our assets and talents, Scotland should be a thriving and driving force within Europe.
“Instead we face being forced to the margins, sidelined by a UK that is itself increasingly sidelined on the international stage.”
Ms Sturgeon said framework legislation for a further independence referendum would be introduced shortly and the aim is for it to be on the statute book by the end of the year, with details being set out next month.
She said: “I can confirm that the Scottish Government will act to ensure that the option of giving people a choice on independence later in this parliament is progressed.
“We will shortly introduce legislation to set the rules for any referendum that is now, or in the future, within the competence of the Scottish Parliament.”
She added: “We do not need a transfer of power, such as a Section 30 Order, to pass such a framework Bill, though we would need it to put beyond doubt or challenge our ability to apply the Bill to an independence referendum.
“There are some who would like to see a very early referendum, others want that choice to be later.
“My job as First Minister is to reach a judgement, not simply in my party’s interest but in the national interest.”
She added: “To rush into an immediate decision before a Brexit path has been determined would not allow for an informed choice to be made.
“However if we are to safeguard Scotland’s interests we can not wait indefinitely. That is why I consider that a choice between Brexit and a future for Scotland as an independent European nation should be offered in the lifetime of this parliament.”
Online reaction to plans for IndyRef2
Shameless Sturgeon talks about respecting the views of other parties, and yet she wants to break her promise that indyref was “once in a generation” and hold a wildcat, illegal referendum. Never in the national interest, only in the Nationalist interest #IndyRef2 #brexit
— DM (@GerDM1990) April 24, 2019
Good speech by Sturgeon. Do/don't want indy, we have clear vision on "UK", much based on lies, now is chance to have our say, we have a clear vision on the landscape. Democratic voice open to all voters, look forward to it whatever the outcome #indyref2 #scotland #brexit
— Gr@3me (@graemebrown86) April 24, 2019
Delighted to hear @theSNP leader & @ScotGovFM @NicolaSturgeon announce legislation to facilitate #indyref2 in the lifetime of current @ScotParl & adopt my #CitizensAssembly proposals to build policy consensus #Brexit
— Joanna Cherry QC MP (@joannaccherry) April 24, 2019
The indy ref in 2014 was no where near as divisive as the brexit process that has been forced apon Scotland. We can handle #indyref2 like adults as well.
— Dan (@TheDanRae) April 24, 2019
Indyref2 before 2021 is impossible and the FM knows it. That's why she is calling for it. Another way to kick the can down the road beyond the next election. Problem is, I think this only serves to make her grassroots more restless and the public more bored.
— Kevin O'Donnell (@kevwodonnell) April 24, 2019