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A divisive second independence referendum could be held by Christmas, SNP Constitution Secretary Mike Russell MSP has suggested.

The Sunday Times reports that he told online activists: “Best practice suggests that six months should expire between the legislation and the referendum.

“That is because electoral administrators need time to put in systems — but I do hope the new parliament moves without too much delay to that.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, said:

“This is the latest reckless comment from Mr Russell, who is more interested in dividing Scotland than bringing us together as we recover from Covid.

“It is grossly irresponsible to even contemplate another referendum while people are losing their lives and livelihoods.

“And even if we weren’t in the midst of a global pandemic, the SNP has had six years to answer the question what currency a separate Scotland would use and can’t - so the idea it could resolve all the unanswered questions in six months is fanciful.

“The reality is that we are stronger together as part of the UK and we can ensure a successful recovery by working together.”

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