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Scottish government puts second independence referendum plans on hold until terms of Brexit are clear

Scotland's devolved government will put plans for a second Scottish independence referendum on hold until the terms of Britain's departure from the European Union are made clear, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said on Tuesday.

In a statement to Scottish Parliament, the First Minister said that her government would not be pursuing legislation to trigger a second independence referendum until there was "sufficient clarity" about the options of Brexit.

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech during a media conference at the Scotland House in Brussels as she is on a one day visit to meet with EU officials, on June 29, 2016.
Geoffroy Van Der Hasselt | AFP | Getty Images
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon delivers a speech during a media conference at the Scotland House in Brussels as she is on a one day visit to meet with EU officials, on June 29, 2016.

Sturgeon, who leads Scotland's governing Scottish National Party, announced in March that she planned to push for a second referendum to be held between 2018 and 2019. But it appears those plans have been shelved for the meantime - although it was not indicated whether an independence referendum would be taken off the table completely.

"The Scottish government remains committed – strongly – to the principle of giving Scotland a choice at the end of this (Brexit) process," she said. "But I want to reassure people that our proposal is not for a referendum now or before there is sufficient clarity about the options – but rather to give them a choice at the end of the Brexit process when that clarity has emerged."

She added: "I am therefore confirming today that, having listened and reflected, the Scottish government will reset the plan I set out on March 13. We will not seek to introduce the legislation for an independence referendum immediately."

Jane Barlow | PA Images | Getty Images

British Prime Minister Theresa May said earlier that day that Sturgeon should "completely take off the table" a second independence referendum. "I think that was the clear message from the general election and I think now is the time for the United Kingdom to be pulling together, not being driven apart," May told Sky News.

The First Minister instead said she would redouble on the Scottish government's efforts to influence Brexit talks "in a way that protects Scotland's interests," and that her government remained committed to dampening a hard Brexit in favor of one which kept the U.K. in the single market.

It is believed that the First Minister's commitment to a second independence referendum may have damaged her party's performance in the June 8 general election.

The party suffered heavy losses, from former First Minister Alex Salmond, to former deputy leader of the party Angus Robertson. The SNP won 35 of the 59 Scottish constituencies, a loss of 21 seats from the 56 they won in the U.K.'s 2015 general election.

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