NICOLA Sturgeon has suggested she would push for a second independence referendum even if the UK remained in the European Union.

The First Minister, who has used Brexit to justify plans for a referendum by May 2021, indicated that she still wanted a vote on independence following a hypothetical People’s Vote to keep the UK in the EU.

Appearing on the Andrew Marr Show, she argued that the prospect of Boris Johnson becoming prime minister, and “all of the experience of the last three years”, mean Scotland should be able to have another independence vote.

Presenter Marr asked: “If you get a second referendum on Brexit, that you want, and it goes the other way – the UK stays inside the EU – does that remove the need for an imminent Scottish independence referendum?”

The First Minister replied: “Not necessarily, no, because I think things are changing.”

She added: “I’m sure if we end up in that scenario I’ll come back on the programme and we could talk about that rather than talk about it hypothetically just now.

“We could be facing the prospect in the near future of Boris Johnson as prime minister, so the last thing I should be doing is narrowing Scotland’s options.

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“I think after all of the experience of the last three years, Scotland should have the opportunity to decide whether we want to become an independent European nation.”

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In April, Sturgeon told the Scottish Parliament that she wants to hold a second referendum on independence by 2021 if the UK is taken out of the EU.

The Scottish Government is due to introduce a Referendum Bill this month setting out the rules of a second vote.

During or after the passage of the legislation the First Minister has said she will request the temporary transfer of powers from Westminster to Holyrood to hold the vote. She has also suggested she would favour having a new independence referendum next year.

The Scottish Greens have previously said they are in favour of a second independence referendum even if Brexit does not go ahead – through the revocation of Article 50 or if a People’s Vote resulted in a remain outcome.

Speaking to The National earlier this year, Ross Greer, the party’s spokesman on Europe, said a second plebiscite must take place before the next Holyrood election in 2021, and even if the UK does not leave the European Union.

“In the event of a People’s Vote succeeding for remain, there is still clearly a mandate for independence.

“Over the last two and a half years the way Scotland has been treated has run completely contrary to everything we were promised in 2014. We were told to lead the UK, not leave the UK.

“When six Scottish politicians tried to do exactly that with the case to the European Court of Justice to revoke Article 50. When we succeeded in that case… we were treated with contempt by a large section of the political right at Westminster.

He continued: “The Scottish devolution settlement itself has come under direct attack from the UK Government. Everything that has happened has proven the need for Scotland to have that choice again over our own future.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip Maurice Golden accused the First Minister of using Brexit as “a fig leaf to hide her only real priority”.

Nicola Sturgeon has used Brexit as an excuse for pursuing a second independence referendum for the last three years,” he said.

“Whether the UK is in or out of the EU, her answer will always be the same – independence.”

Golden added: “It is time for Scotland to move on from this endless uncertainty and to leave the division of the last decade behind us.”