INDYREF2 will be held with or without a Section 30 order granted by Westminster, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

In a bullish statement, the First Minister suggested the Scottish Government would explore other avenues to hold an independence referendum outside of the route used in 2014.

A Section 30 order refers to the necessary transfer of powers on the constitution from Westminster to Holyrood to hold a referendum.

It was the process agreed by Alex Salmond and David Cameron in the Edinburgh Agreement of 2012 but there is little to suggest Boris Johnson would grant a section 30 order.

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One was refused by then-prime minister Theresa May in 2017 following the Brexit referendum and another rejected by Johnson in 2020, following the SNP’s resounding success in the previous year’s General Election.

The National:

Speaking at a press conference kickstarting the renewed campaign for independence, Sturgeon said that if the UK Government “had any respect at all for democracy” it would grant a Section 30 order, allowing a legally binding referendum to be held.

While this remains unlikely, the First Minister said she was “ready to discuss the terms of such an order at any time” with Johnson.

She said: “My duty, as the democratically elected First Minister, is to the people of Scotland, it is not to Boris Johnson or to any Tory prime minister.

“This is a UK Government that has no respect for democracy.

“That means if we are to uphold democracy here in Scotland we must forge a way forward, if necessary, without a Section 30 order.”

While she accepted Holyrood’s competence to legislate for a referendum was “contested”, Sturgeon added that “is the situation we must navigate to give people the choice of independence”.

Work to explore alternative avenues to press ahead with a second referendum was “well underway”, Sturgeon said, adding that a “significant update” on this was coming “very soon indeed”.

Addressing Johnson directly, she said: "I stand ready to negotiate a Section 30 order, if you decide that you now are a democrat.

"I have to say, the evidence of that up to date is not promising, but I’ll set out what we do in those circumstances if he continues to deny democracy very soon.”

Sturgeon also noted the Scottish Parliament contained a "decisive majority" of pro-independence MSPs - the same criteria which saw the Tories grant a Section 30 order a decade ago. 

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Kenny MacAskill, former SNP justice secretary and deputy leader of Alba, made a similar call in a statement released during the press conference.

The National:

Alex Salmond and David Cameron sign the Edinburgh Agreement in 2012/Getty 

He said: “It is the duty of the Scottish Government to implement its mandate, renewed in 2021, for a second independence referendum.

“In doing so it will have the support of the whole Yes movement.   

“It is now for the Scottish Government to set out both the timetable and the means by which it will deliver  an independence referendum by the end of 2023 with or without a section 30 order being granted by Westminster.”

Downing Street has again rejected the Scottish Government's case for a second referendum. 

The Prime Minister's official spokesman said: "The UK Government’s position is that now is not the time to be talking about another referendum.

“We are confident that the people of Scotland want and expect their governments to be working together to focus on issues like the global cost-of-living challenges, like war in Europe and the issues that matter to their families and their communities.”

Ian Murray, Labour’s only Scottish MP, accused the First Minister of announcing the “potential for an illegal referendum”.

He tweeted: “Cost of living crisis, pandemic economic and public service recovery and the FM wants to plunge Scotland into an illegal referendum. Wow.”