(Corrects percentage figure in paragraph 9)
* Second referendum in five years would be in 2018-2019
* Sturgeon wants vote before UK leaves the EU
* Sturgeon says talks with London hit "brick wall"
By Elisabeth O'Leary
EDINBURGH, March 13 Scottish First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon on Monday demanded a new independence referendum
to be held in late 2018 or early 2019, once the terms of
Britain's exit from the European Union have become clearer.
A vote that could rip apart the United Kingdom just months
before Brexit adds a tumultuous twist and highly uncertain
consequences to the two-year process of leaving the EU after
more than four decades.
"If Scotland is to have a real choice - when the terms of
Brexit are known but before it is too late to choose our own
course - then that choice must be offered between the autumn of
next year, 2018, and the spring of 2019," Sturgeon told
Her demand comes just as British Prime Minister Theresa May
is poised to launch the Brexit process, something opposed by
most Scots in last June's vote on leaving the bloc.
Ultimately it is the UK parliament in Westminster - where
May commands a majority - which makes the call on whether
Scotland can hold a second referendum. But if May refused to
approve such a vote she could provoke a constitutional crisis.
This month, she accused Sturgeon's Scottish National Party
of sacrificing not only the United Kingdom but also Scotland
with its "obsession" with securing independence.
Sturgeon has previously said she wanted Scotland to be
allowed to strike its own deal with the EU to keep access to the
bloc's tariff-free single market. But on Monday she said her
efforts had hit a "brick wall of intransigence" in London.
"If the UK leaves the EU without Scotland indicating
beforehand - or at least within a short time after it - that we
want a different relationship with Europe, we could face a
lengthy period not just outside the EU but also the single
market," she said.
The results of the June 23 Brexit referendum called the
future of the UK into question because England and Wales voted
to leave the EU but Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to stay,
with an overall 51.9 percent in favour of leaving.
Scots rejected independence by 55-45 percent in a referendum
in September 2014, though the vote energised Scottish politics
and support for the SNP has surged since then.
Sterling rose after Sturgeon said the earliest date for a
new Scottish independence referendum was in the autumn of next
year. British government bond prices fell.
Recent opinion polls have shown support for independence
running at close to 50 percent.
At her news conference on Monday, Sturgeon was asked if she
believed she could win a second independence vote: "Yes I do.
Absolutely, I believe that."
(Additional reporting by Andy Bruce in London; Writing by
William Schomberg; Editing by Guy Faulconbridge and Louise