NICOLA Sturgeon has refused to be drawn on a key part of her plans for a second independence referendum.
The SNP has said another vote should be held “after the pandemic, at a time to be decided by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament”.
But it is unclear how the end of the pandemic would be defined in this context.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) declared a pandemic in March last year.
The asked the First Minister during her regular coronavirus briefing whether she would wait for the WHO to declare it is over, or whether completing the vaccine rollout would be deemed sufficient.
She said: “I have nothing that I’m going to say around an independence referendum right now, because this is a Covid briefing.
“That is my main focus and I’m not going to get diverted on to other issues, however ingenious the ways of trying to encourage me to do so might be.”
It comes after the SNP’s Constitution Secretary Michael Russell outlined his roadmap to a second referendum.
It says the SNP Government will publish a draft bill for another referendum before the Holyrood election in May.
This would be enacted if there is a pro-independence majority following the election.
Mr Russell said the SNP would request a section 30 order from the UK Government to hold another referendum, as happened in 2014.
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The SNP insists the UK Government would then be left with three options: agree that the Scottish Parliament already has the power to legislate for a referendum, agree to a section 30 order to put that question beyond any doubt, or take legal action to dispute the basis of the referendum “and seek to block the will of the Scottish people in the courts”.
Mr Russell’s roadmap says: “The SNP Scottish Government continues to maintain that a referendum must be beyond legal challenge to ensure legitimacy and acceptance at home and abroad.
“This is the surest way by far of becoming an independent country.
“It should be held after the pandemic, at a time to be decided by the democratically elected Scottish Parliament.
“The SNP believes that should be in the early part of the new term.”