Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants to have a "legal, constitutional referendum" on Scottish independence as she announced a new Bill is to be published at Holyrood for a consultative vote on the matter.
The Scottish First Minister told MSPs the Bill will set out for a referendum to be held on October 19, 2023, with the question to be asked the same as in the 2014 vote “Should Scotland be an independent country?"
The move poses a fresh headache for Boris Johnson, who has repeatedly said that he would not sanction another ballot. Ms Sturgeon said that plans for a consultative vote had been filed to the Supreme Court to achieve “legal clarity” over whether a ballot could be held.
The First Minister said she had written to Mr Johnson confirming the SNP’s plan, saying: “It is, in my view, unacceptable democratically that the route to a referendum has to be via the courts rather than by co-operation between the UK and Scottish governments.”
In the event that Holyrood is unable to secure another vote, Ms Sturgeon said she would fight the next general election on the “single question” of Scotland’s independence, adding that it would be “a de facto referendum”.
She said that in the “weeks and months ahead” the Scottish Government would “make the positive case for independence” and would “do so with commitment, confidence and passion”.
“Let the opposition if they can make the case for continued Westminster rule and then let the people decide,” she added.
Shadow secretary of state for Scotland Ian Murray suggested that Ms Sturgeon's push for an independence referendum will keep the Conservative Party in power at the next general election.
"The FM (First Minister) 'we must rid our country of this Tory govt'," the Labour MP tweeted.
"But we will use the next GE to keep them in power.
"She's given the game away. Scottish politics is paralysed and this dead cat (independence referendum) strategy is to deflect from this FM's appalling record in government."
In order to grant a second referendum, UK ministers would have to grant a Section 30 order. This would allow a legally binding referendum to be held, as happened in 2014.