Sturgeon says it is 'inconceivable' PM could try to block new independence vote

Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said it is "inconceivable" that Theresa May could try to block a second independence referendum.

Ms Sturgeon said Scotland had found itself in a position it did not want to be in as a result of the Brexit vote and she could not see how the Government at Westminster could justify refusing them another chance to leave the UK.

Her comments follow her announcement on Thursday at the SNP conference that consultation is to begin next week on legislation for a second referendum.

With Scotland having voted strongly to remain in the European Union, she said the Holyrood Parliament was entitled to protect the interests of the Scottish people in the light of the overall UK vote to leave.

"Scotland is in a position just now we didn't ask to be in," she told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme.

"We have been put into this position by, largely, the Conservative Party and if as a result of that there is a view in the Scottish Parliament that the best way to protect our interests is to offer the choice of independence again, the idea that the same party that put us into that position would then deny us that choice I just find inconceivable."

Ms Sturgeon has been careful not to be drawn on the timing of a second referendum on independence and she said that she was still looking to see if it was possible to strike a deal that allowed Scotland to remain part of the EU single market even if the rest of UK were to leave.

"There is an ability to be creative and look at different options that respect how different parts of the UK voted. I think there are ways in which that can be done," she said.

"I have never since the referendum pretended it will be straightforward or without challenges, and maybe we will find that none of these ways are possible and that independence is the only option to pursue.

"But we will try very hard to put other options on the table and I hope Theresa May will listen to them very carefully."

While she acknowledged that falling oil prices meant that a second referendum would pose "hard economic questions" for the SNP she said the whole of the UK was now facing an uncertain economic future following the Brexit vote.

"I absolutely accept that if Scotland is in another independence debate then there are hard economic questions that will be asked that I and those advocating independence have a responsibility to answer," she said.

"I think it is very likely the UK deficit is going to deteriorate because of the economic implications of Brexit

"This is no longer about the certainty of the UK versus the uncertainty of independence. The UK route is highly uncertain. This is about how we give ourselves maximum control over our economic future."