NICOLA Sturgeon is to set out her ‘routemap’ to a second independence referendum next week.
The First Minister will explain to MSPs how she can deliver on an SNP manifesto commitment to stage Indyref2 despite the UK Government withholding the necessary powers.
Ms Sturgeon is due to make a statement and answer questions at Holyrood next Tuesday for an hour starting at 2.20pm.
SNP Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson has said the aim is to hold the vote in October 2023.
The Scottish Government revealed the statement date at a meeting of the parliamentary bureau, which considers the timetabling of chamber business, earlier today.
SNP and Green MSPs are expected to confirm it in a vote, with Unionist parties almost certain to object.
Ms Sturgeon last week published the first installation in a refreshed prospectus for independence, saying Scotland could perform far better on a range of economic and social metrics outside the UK.
However she failed to say how she could hold Indyref2 in light of Boris Johnson refusing to transfer extra powers to Holyrood under Section 30 of the Scotland Act 1998.
Ms Sturgeon said she may have to proceed without a Section 30 order.
However that would be a legally fraught option, and may end in a fight with the UK Government at the Supreme Court.
Ms Sturgeon has conspicuously failed to introduce any legislation for a second referendum at Holyrood, despite publishing a two-page draft version last year.
Any Bill would first have to get approval from the Lord Advocate, Dorothy Bain QC, who would have to decide that it was likely to survive a Supreme Court challenge, despite the Union being an area reserved to Westminster.
If no Bill is introduced before the start of the summer recess, it cannot be published until September, leaving the timetable for an October 2023 vote extremely tight.
The absence of a Bill has prompted speculation that Ms Sturgeon may try to avoid a Supreme Court defeat by watering down any legislation so that Indyref2 becomes more like an opinion poll, rather than a re-run of the 2014 vote.
However this would dismay many in the Yes movement, and encourage Unionists to boycott it.
Ms Sturgeon last week said her statement to Holyrood would be a “significant update”, but did not say if a Bill would be part of it.
Mr Robertson then said Ms Sturgeon would set out a “routemap” to a referendum.
If the legislation was robust and ready, there would be no need for an intermediary step such as a routemap.
Tory MSP Donald Cameron said: “The Scottish public are sick and tired of the SNP’s obsession with independence.
“In the last week before summer recess, people want to hear their MSPs discussing the issues that really matter to them – not yet another speech on independence from Nicola Sturgeon.
“With the cost of living spiraling, Scotland’s NHS facing an crisis, and our economy still struggling to recover from the pandemic, this debate is an unjustifiable waste of time.
“Once again, Nicola Sturgeon has blatantly ignored Scotland’s real priorities to promote an unwanted second referendum.”