- Nicola Sturgeon, 46, has called for a second vote on Scottish independence
- It has been reported Ms Sturgeon has abandoned plans to immediately rejoin EU
- Two thirds of Scots want the bloc to have reduced powers or for the UK to leave
Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) called for a second independence vote for Scotland
Nicola Sturgeon is preparing to drop her insistence that Scotland should stay in the EU after independence amid signs of growing Euroscepticism north of the border.
The First Minister could instead call for a looser Norway-style link, which would see the country pay into Brussels coffers in return for access to the single market.
The apparent climbdown emerged as Miss Sturgeon suffered a series of setbacks after dramatically demanding a fresh independence referendum on Monday.
The EU has flatly dismissed the prospect of Scotland staying inside the club if it splits - with Spain fiercely opposed because of fears about encouraging its own Catalan separatists.
Polls today showed there is still a significant majority in Scotland in favour of remaining in the UK, with up to 57 per cent wanting to keep the union.There were claims that one of Miss Sturgeon's top advisers believes the Scottish economy could take a decade to recover after independence.
In a sign of the nerves among the nationalists, the SNP's Westminster leader Angus Robertson today stressed that there was still time to avert an independence referendum.
The MP said the party's 'efforts are currently focused' on persuading Theresa May to give them guarantees about access to the European single market.
The huge annual Scottish Social Attitudes Survey was published today showing a sharp rise in Euroscepticism.
Two thirds of the public north of the border would want Brussels to have reduced powers or for the UK to leave the EU completely, according to the research.
The study has crystalised fears that Miss Sturgeon's demand to stay fully within the bloc might turn off the 400,000 voters who backed both independence and Brexit.
The last referendum in 2014 - which the SNP said would settle the issue for a 'generation' - delivered a 55 per cent majority for staying the UK, equivalent to two million votes.
A poll for the Scottish Daily Mail today suggested there is now a 54-46 split against independence once you exclude those yet to decide.
YouGov research for The Times put the advantage for the No camp even higher at 57-43.
SNP sources were this morning trying to play down reports that Miss Sturgeon would downscale her ambitions to membership of the European Free Trade Association.
Ms Sturgeon (picutred) met her Cabinet in Edinburgh for the first time after she shocked Westminster by declaring her plans for a new vote
Polls today have indicated that there is still a solid majority in Scotland against independence
Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein are all in that group, giving them access to the single market.
But they have to comply with rules imposed by Brussels and have no real input into legislation which is drawn up in the Belgian capital.
Scotland was warned that if it chooses to leave the UK, it will also be leaving the EU and would have to rejoin as a new member. All new members since 1999 have been obliged to join the Euro.
Ruth Davidson, the Scottish Conservative leader, said: 'The SNP's plans to impose a referendum on independence in Scotland have unravelled within 24 hours.'
And in a move which could deal another blow to Ms Sturgeon, Prime Minister Theresa May told the Commons that after visiting Brussels she could not foresee Scotland being allowed to join the EU if it became independent.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Conservatives slammed the SNP's plans and said that they 'unravelled' in just 24 hours and were left in 'total confusion', reports the newspaper.
It also came on the same day Spain warned Scotland it would be at the 'back of the queue' for EU membership if it voted for independence.
Ms Sturgeon is demanding a second independence referendum take place once the outline of Brexit is clear but before it takes place
Her announcement infuriated Prime Minister Theresa May (pictured) who has hinted that she could not see Brussels allowing an independent Scotland to join the EU
Alfonso Dastis, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Spain, said Spain would do nothing to encourage 'secession' in other countries.
The Spanish government has a long dispute with its own Catalonia region.
Mr Dastis said: 'Spain supports the integrity of the United Kingdom and does not encourage secessions or divisions in any of the member states.
'We prefer things to stay as they are.'
Miss Sturgeon and Mrs May engaged in an extraordinary public slanging match yesterday after the threat to call another referendum.
The First Minister branded the PM 'unelected' and dismissed jibes that she did not have a mandate to trigger a fresh ballot so soon after the issue was meant to have been settled.
But Mrs May accused Miss Sturgeon of 'playing games' with the future of the UK, saying she was willing to do anything to fulfil her ambition of breaking up the union.
The Westminster government has to give approval for a binding referendum to be held, meaning that the PM could theoretically block a pol.
However, ministers are resigned to the prospect of a vote as they believe refusing would just fuel nationalist sentiment.
Instead Mrs May is preparing for a pitch battle with Miss Sturgeon over the timing of the referendum - insisting her preferred schedule of Autumn 2018 is unacceptable and the ballot cannot be held before Brexit is finalised the following year.
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