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In June 2016, David Cameron had stepped down as the prime minister after Britain voted to leave the EU.

In September of 2014, Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent to remain a part of the United Kingdom.

The University of Aberdeen's Scottish politics chair Michael Keating said the outcome was "wide open" as the polls were within the margin of error.

But Sturgeon, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP), also held out the possibility of a compromise with the British government, saying: "I am not turning my back on further discussion".

Her insistence that Scotland will leave the European Union stems from Commission spokesman Margaritis Schinas' statement the "Barroso doctrine" continues to apply.

But the prospect of an imminent start to Brexit was enough to push the nationalist devolved government in Scotland into calling for a new independence referendum.

The Prime Minister said it would be "unfair" for people to vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 as Sturgeon wanted, because it would be too early to give a judgement on Brexit.

Keating said he did not see "any room for compromise" in Sturgeon's announcement and warned that applying to get back into the European Union would be "horrendously complicated" for an independent Scotland.

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"All of our efforts at compromise have been met with a brick wall of intransigence", Sturgeon said, claiming that May's government has been given every chance to compromise.

"I will take the steps necessary now to make sure that Scotland will have a choice at the end of this process", said the first minister.

"A choice of whether to follow the United Kingdom to a hard Brexit, or to become an independent country able to secure a real partnership of equals with the rest of the United Kingdom and our own relationship with Europe".

But the prime minister did not say whether she was ruling out holding a referendum at some point in the future.

However May said: "Right now we should be working together, not pulling apart". Past year we were elected with the highest share of the constituency vote own by any party in the history of devolution on a manifesto that said this - "the Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out of the European Union against our will".

Ruth Davidson, the Conservative leader in Scotland, said: "These are surreal comments".

Mrs May will confirm in a party speech in Wales tomorrow that she intends to trigger Brexit talks by moving Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty at the end of this month.