First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon is to publish a draft bill calling for a second Scottish independence referendum next week in a direct challenge to British Prime Minister Theresa May's hardline stance on leaving the European Union (EU).
Sturgeon told the Scottish National party conference in Glasgow that she had a powerful political mandate to defend Scotland's vote in favour of remaining in the EU in June's referendum, reports the Guardian.
But the UK government's policies on immigration and remaining within the EU single market made it clear the Tory party had now been taken over by its "rampant" and xenophobic right wing.
Sturgeon told May: "Hear this, if you think for one single second that I'm not serious about doing what it takes to protect Scotland's interests, then think again."
She said: "I am determined that Scotland will have the ability to reconsider the question of independence - and to do so before the UK leaves the EU - if that is necessary to protect our country's interests."
Her official spokesman said that this was designed to give the Scottish government a full range of options: its immediate goal was to get the strongest powers possible for Scottish Parliament in the Brexit deal.
He said, "We need the UK Government to give much needed clarity on what they have in mind before we can be reasonably expected to come up with a package for Scotland."
Speeding up the referendum bill process opens up a deepening and increasingly significant political divide between the Scottish and UK Governments, showing Sturgeon's increasing confidence that the Tories' shift to a harder line on Brexit has strengthened her hand.
Sturgeon faces clear short-term obstacles to staging a second vote on leaving the UK. Scottish voters are still not convinced of the case for a fast second referendum and the Scottish Parliament will require Westminster's legal authority to stage a referendum.
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