THE chance to hold an independence referendum could be lost if the Scottish Government waits for clarity on Brexit, Scottish Greens leader Patrick Harvie warned yesterday.

Speaking at his party conference, he said First Minister Nicola Sturgeon should waste no more time in laying out her plans for a second independence vote – and make it clear that Scotland has the right to hold it.

He also told Labour to ditch their Brexit talks with the Tories, pointing out that Scotland’s views had been continually ignored.

“I think we need to give a very clear message to the Labour Party,” he said. “Do not take up this absurd offer of sharing the blame for Brexit, do not trust a word you hear from a Tory party that doesn’t even know who its next leader will be, do not expect to be forgiven if you facilitate this hard-right Brexit project.

“We [Scotland] have been cut out and ignored by the UK Government at every turn. Every single offer of compromise has been rejected.”

With regard to another referendum, Harvie said he understood why some SNP members wanted to wait but suggested it might be months or even years before there was any clear Brexit policy.

He said: “If there’s an extension even of months, possibly longer, then that clarity won’t be emerging, and we may miss the window of opportunity in this session of the Scottish Parliament.

“I don’t want to see that opportunity missed, and the reality is there has already been a material change of circumstances in Scotland.”

The SNP’s election manifesto pledge was to hold another vote if there was a “material change” of circumstances.

Harvie said clarity from the Scottish Government about when the next independence referendum would be held was now essential.

He pointed out that time was needed before the next Scottish elections in 2021 for Holyrood to pass the necessary legislation and a majority in favour of independence was required for that to happen.

“We have a majority for that at the moment,” he pointed out.

“But we also need in principle a clear defence of the fact that Scotland has the right to make this decision.”

At the start of this year, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that even if Brexit was delayed she would outline plans for another referendum “in the coming weeks”.

In March when pressed by Harvie on the timing of a second vote, she said: “I think it is reasonable to wait to see what clarity emerges in the next few days.

“Even if I suspect it will just be clarity that there will be no clarity – and then I will set out my views on the path forward”.

Yesterday, Sturgeon said she had hoped that by now it would have been clear which path Westminster was going to take on Brexit but added she had “underestimated the incompetence of the UK Government”.