NICOLA Sturgeon has suggested that there may be “room for discussions” with leadership hopeful Rishi Sunak after it emerged that he backed holding indyref2 after Brexit.

In comments from 2017 unearthed by The National, the then relatively unknown Richmond MP said it would be “hard” to block another referendum and suggested holding it after Brexit would give people a clearer choice.

Throughout his leadership campaign so far Sunak has talked up the strength of the Union, but come under fire from fellow Unionists for his lack of a voice on the issue in comparison to his competitors.

The National:

Despite concerns from the likes of Labour’s Jackie Baillie that Sunak’s silence is “deafening”, Scottish Tory MP Andrew Bowie has insisted that Sunak will protect the Union should he become the next prime minister.

At the launch of her next independence paper on Thursday, Sturgeon was asked if she would be up for negotiation on her indyref2 plans with the next PM.

“I notice in the media this morning comments of Rishi Sunak’s from some time ago saying Scotland should have the right to a referendum after Brexit,” she told journalists.

The National:

“Well it’s after Brexit, so maybe if he is to hold to what he said before there may be some room for discussions there. If he emerges as the winner – which based on events in the last 24 hours I don’t think is anyway certain.”

Sunak currently has the support of the largest number of MPs, but polls suggest Penny Mordaunt would beat him to the top job when the vote goes out to the membership.

Sturgeon is hoping to hold another independence referendum in October 2023, should the Supreme Court find that Holyrood legislating on it without UK Government consent is legal.

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If the judges rule against the Scottish Government, the next General Election will be used as a de-facto referendum.

Further discussing the idea of compromise with the next PM, the SNP chief went on: “In principle yes in terms of the detail I will be open to a negotiation and in any negotiation you have to be prepared to compromise.

“What I will not compromise on is the principle of people in Scotland getting the opportunity to cast their votes and make their views known on independence.”

She added that if Johnson’s replacement is open to talking about granting a Section 30 order – which she believes remains the best option – she is open to compromising with them to come to an agreement.

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“I’ve set out the path I want to take, that is the path I am going to pursue,” she said. “I’m not going to start to speculate on the views of a prime minister I don’t even know the identity of yet.

"That’s the path I have set out. If somebody wants to come to me and say look we’ll have a Section 30 order and here’s the negotiation we want to have, of course I will listen to that but I’ve set out the path.”

Asked for her views on the remaining leadership candidates, Sturgeon said: "They all look pretty bad to me.

"None of them seem to have anything to offer Scotland except democracy denial."