First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that she is preparing legislation to enable the Scottish Parliament to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence.
While the UK as a whole voted to leave the European Union, Scots overwhelmingly opted to remain, with Ms Sturgeon declaring the result meant there had been a “significant and material change in the circumstances in which Scotland voted against independence” in 2014.
She said: “As things stand, Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable.”
Britain voted to leave the EU by 52 per cent to 48 per cent, with Scotland voting by 62 per cent to 38 per cent in favour of Remain.
The First Minister said it is now “highly likely” that there will another vote on Scotland’s place in the UK in the next two years.
Speaking at her official residence, Bute House in Edinburgh, she said: “I intend to take all possible steps and explore all possible options to give effect to how people in Scotland voted - in other words to secure our continuing place in the EU, and in the single market in particular.”
The SNP manifesto for May’s Holyrood elections said the Scottish Parliament “should have the right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will”.
Ms Sturgeon said: “It is, therefore, a statement of the obvious that a second referendum must be on the table, and it is on the table.”
All 32 local authority areas north of the border returned a majority for Remain in the EU referendum.
Ms Sturgeon said: “Unfortunately, of course, yesterday’s result in Scotland was not echoed across the whole of the United Kingdom. The UK-wide vote to leave the EU is one that I deeply regret.
Scotland faces the prospect of being taken out of the EU against our will. I regard that as democratically unacceptableNicola Sturgeon
“The vote across England and Wales was a rejection of the EU and it was a sign of divergence between Scotland and large parts of the rest of the UK and how we see our place in the rest of the world.”