The Scottish National Party will lay out draft legislation for consultation on a second independence referendum as early as next week, according to their External Affairs Minister. Fiona Hyslop told a fringe event at the party's conference that her party would protect Scotland's interests above all else.

Insisting that her party would try to persuade the UK Government to pursue the "the least worst option" when negotiating a deal to leave the EU, Hyslop said: "If we can't get that we certainly must have a differentiated option.

"If required we will pursue that independence option, we have got that opportunity, we will lay the draft legislation next week for consultation. We are serious, we are absolutely serious about protecting Scotland's interests."

She was speaking at an event organised by the European Free Alliance (EFA) — an umbrella organisation representing stateless nations and regions in Europe.

The EFA, which champions the rights of self-determination, autonomy and independence was represented by its president Francois Alfonsi. "For us, Scotland is definitely European, regardless of what the rest of the UK voted," he said.

On June 23, 62% of Scots, compared to 48%, voted to remain as members of the European Union, which Alfonsi said must be recognised. He stated: "The Scottish people, with a great majority, expressed their determination to remain in Europe."

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has since declared that a second referendum on Scottish independence from the UK would now be "extremely likely".

Having lost the previous referendum on Scottish independence by 44.7% to 55.3%, the Scottish government feel that a constitutional change of this magnitude would give more incentive to Scots to vote to leave the UK in order to remain in the European Union.

Ms Hyslop argued that the response to Scotland by other EU member states would be different in light of June's Brexit vote.

Speaking about possible options for Scotland, Alfonsi said: "Greenland is a part of Denmark but outside of the European Union, with the same logic Europe should enable Scotland to stay in the European Union, even if the UK leaves the European Union."

Scotland voted in favour of remaining in the European Union Jeff J. Mitchell/ Getty Images