She announced that next week she intends to ask the Scottish Parliament for authority to approach the UK Government to open negotiations on a further vote on Scottish Independence. She is seeking a section 30 order which will allow the Scottish Government to manage and organise a further referendum. At present this is beyond the legislative competence of the Scottish Parliament. She states that she has been forced into this situation by the UK Government's decision to proceed with what she interprets as a hard Brexit and their failure to respond in any way, never mind positively, to the paper published in December on "Scotland's Place in Europe". Finally she reminds us all that she has a mandate from the last Scottish Parliament elections to proceed in this way.
The twitter feeds have been hot since the announcement. However the tweeted support from the Green Party that they are in favour of another Independence referendum makes it almost a certainty that she will be able to approach the UK Government with a majority of votes from the members of the Scottish Parliament. The size of the majority may be more interesting bearing in mind the comments from various parties in the past few weeks as to their position on a further referendum.
Ms Sturgeon would like the vote to be held when there is a clear understanding of what Brexit will look like for Scotland. She anticipates a hard Brexit which will be unacceptable to Scotland. She suggests therefore that the vote should take place between autumn 2018 and spring 2019. That could in fact mean anytime between September 2018 and June 2019.
Should the vote be for independence, there was also a hint, not said out loud, that Scotland, even on this timetable, might find itself outside the EU with the rest of the UK for a short period. The timing of the vote sought to reduce those risks to EU membership. As we are learning with Brexit there is a lot to do on "divorce" to sort out the money and the assets once the votes have been counted. Re entry to the EU and a new relationship with rUK outside the EU would be a whole new negotiation.
So could it all be done in time? The answer is probably yes so far as the process is concerned. However it remains to be seen whether, even if the UK Government agree to a further section 30 order, they are keen for it to take place just as negotiations may be reaching a climax on Brexit in autumn 2018 or when the UK is about to leave the EU at the end of the Article 50 two year period in spring 2019. The later date may be the start of either the transitional or trade negotiation period depending on how it goes.
We can expect a new version of a White Paper from the Scottish Government at some point setting out the direction for an independent Scotland in EU since that is the point of the new referendum at this time. We can expect endless political and legal discussion on the finer aspects of the wording of "the question", on the Scottish economy, on the value of oil, on fishing, on agriculture, on international relations, on currency, on pensions, on social security, on tax, on how quickly we can re join the EU, on passports, on ongoing trade with rUK, on Scottish television and many, many more equally relevant topics.
Political and business leaders and their followers will be forming their sectoral groups and getting ready to hit the road to talk in small halls around Scotland. Constitutional lawyers will be dusting off their papers from 2014 and building themselves up for the debates to come. Businesses will be considering how the impacts they may already be feeling as a result of the Brexit vote and negotiations will be affected by the prospect of a further period of referendum uncertainty. There is definitely a feeling of déjà vu today, but at least we voters in Scotland can claim with some conviction to be experts in the practicalities of election and referendum voting.