A second Scottish independence referendum is now almost inevitable, with ministers concluding it is a question of when — not if — a vote is called.
People close to Theresa May’s office said they expected Nicola Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, to seek a referendum next autumn, but that the government would fight to delay the vote until after Britain leaves the EU.
Although the British government could withhold the legal authority for a vote, it now appears focused on determining the date instead.
“It’s looking inevitable, I don’t think we’re in any position to stop it happening,” said one minister close to the discussions. Another person briefed on Downing Street’s thinking said: “ The debate is only going to be about the date.”
But a person close to the Scotland Office denied that a vote was inevitable, adding that Ms Sturgeon could decide not to push for one.