With Theresa May’s UK government set to trigger the article 50 process to leave the EU, Scottish first minister Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed that she will ask for a second referendum on Scottish independence before the Brexit process is complete. The article 50 process will take two years once triggered, and Sturgeon she wants the vote held in late 2018 or early 2019. She said the vote was a necessary move to protect Scottish interests as the UK prepares to leave the EU.

Prime minister Theresa May has yet to say whether she will grant permission for the vote. She did say, however, that a referendum for independence would set Scotland on a course for “uncertainty and division,” saying the Scottish people did not want such a vote.

She added:

“The tunnel vision that SNP has shown today is deeply regrettable. Instead of playing politics with the future of our country, the Scottish government should focus on delivering good government and public services for the people of Scotland. Politics is not a game.”

For her part, Sturgeon said that it was a necessary choice for Scotland when faced with a “hard Brexit” – one which removes the UK from all EU institutions and treaties. The Scottish government has already offered proposals that it says would allow it to remain part of the EU single market, even if the rest of the UK leaves. Sturgeon also said that the Scottish National Party’s success in the last election, winning a record share of the vote, signified a mandate for a new independence referendum. While they did not win a majority of the overall vote, supporters point out that with the pro-independence green party included, independence did win such a majority.

Scotland voted 62% to 38% to remain in the EU in the Brexit referendum, and Sturgeon has said the UK government has not “moved even an inch in pursuit of compromise and agreement” since the vote.

Sturgeon said Scotland stands at a “hugely important crossroads,” and that she would continue trying to reach a compromise with the UK government, adding:

“I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process. A choice of whether to follow the UK to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the UK and our own relationship with Europe.”

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