Nicola Sturgeon ruled out a Scottish independence referendum this year

LONDON — Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out holding a second independence referendum in 2017.

Sturgeon has argued since the Brexit referendum that a fresh vote is “highly likely” before 2020, as Scotland voted to remain in the EU by a margin of 62% to 38%, and leaving the bloc amounts to “a material change in circumstances.”

In an interview with STV news, the first minister explicitly ruled out holding a vote this year.

Asked when she planned to hold a new referendum, she said: “Not this year but I have made [it] very clear there is an absolute essential requirement for Scotland to remain in the single market, because it matters to jobs and investment and livelihoods and living standards across the country.”

Pressed again on the question, Sturgeon said: “There is not going to be an independence referendum in 2017; I don’t think there is anybody who thinks that is the case.”

The first minister has previously said that a referendum will be held if it is the only way to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.

She has laid out plans to keep either the UK in the single market, or to keep Scotland in the rest of the single market if the rest of the UK leaves.

The power to grant a referendum ultimately lies with Westminster, not Holyrood, and prime minister Theresa May has already ruled one out, saying there was “no need.”

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