EDINBURGH • A second Scottish independence referendum is "highly likely" and should take place before Britain leaves the European Union, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday.
Scotland voted to stay in the EU by 62 per cent to 38 per cent in a referendum on Thursday, putting it at odds with the United Kingdom as a whole.
"It is a statement of the obvious that the option of a second independence referendum must be on the table and is on the table," Ms Sturgeon told a news conference.
"As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against her will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable," she added. "I think an independence referendum is now highly likely."
Scots rejected independence from the rest of the UK by 55 per cent to 45 per cent in a 2014 referendum, but since then, Ms Sturgeon's pro-independence Scottish National Party has surged.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said he would leave it to his successor to decide when to trigger the formal process to start two years of exit talks.
"If (Scotland's) Parliament judges that a second (independence) referendum is the only way to protect our place in Europe, it must have the option to hold one within that timescale," Ms Sturgeon said.
Most voters in Northern Ireland also voted to remain in the EU, and Irish nationalist leaders there called for a poll on leaving Britain and uniting with Ireland.