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Sturgeon to decide on second independence referendum by end of 2018

Sturgeon to decide on second independence referendum by end of 2018

Scotland's first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, and Brexit minister Mike Russell at the launch of an analysis paper on Scotland's future relationship with Europe.

Brexit Secretary David Davis told MPs last month the UK Government had not carried out any economic impact assessments of Brexit on the UK.

"Indeed, as our analysis will show - the harder the Brexit the worse will be the outcome", Sturgeon pointed out.

In a speech on Monday, Sturgeon said: "For the sake of jobs, the economy and the next generation, today we are calling on the United Kingdom government to drop its hard Brexit red-lines so that Scotland and the United Kingdom can stay inside the single market and customs union".

In the months after the EU vote, Ms Sturgeon called for a second referendum on Scottish independence - there had been a "material change" of circumstances in the 2014 vote when pro-Union campaigners warned Scots they would lose their EU membership if they voted "Yes".

Ms Sturgeon added: "There is zero credible evidence to suggest leaving the single market will bring any benefit to our economy".

The report calculated the cost to Scotland of Brexit and leaving the single market with or without a trade deal.

That was "absolutely, manifestly, beyond any doubt the option which will do the least damage to our economy", Sturgeon said.

She said she believed that a majority in the House of Commons wanted to stay in the single market, including those in the Labour Party, who needed to "get their act together". It was a "ridiculous position" for him to take, Sturgeon said: "Norway stands as the living proof that this just can't be the case".

The move follows a Brexit summit by the leaders of the four parties which Labour refused to attend.

This is compared to a free-trade agreement, which would cut the GDP by 6.1 percent (£1,610 per head), and the WTO rules that would cut GDP by 8.5 percent (£2,263 per head).

"None of these options are as good as staying within the European Union", she said.

A hard Brexit would cost Scotland's economy £12.7bn a year, according to a new Scottish Government report.

However, authoritative opinion polling published by the National Centre for Social Research showed that this was unpopular among Scottish voters, with 67% believing Scotland should have the same trade rules as the rest of the UK.

The MP for Ilford North in London said Labour's calls for a "jobs-first Brexit" that secures "tariff-free access" to the European Union while leaving the single market was a "fudge" for the 2017 general election that "will not carry us through 2018".

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