Sturgeon: 'Why' not 'when' most important independence task 'right now'

Nicola Sturgeon said people should stop obsessing about the timing of another referendum

Nicola Sturgeon said people should stop obsessing about the timing of another referendum Credit PA

Ms Sturgeon had previously called for a second independence referendum to be held in the wake of the Brexit vote, which saw nearly two thirds of people north of the border vote to stay part of the European Union.

She said the British government was "paralysed" over Brexit, which the SNP strongly opposes, "and the sooner it holds no sway over Scotland, the better". He said the party was working on the basis that in a few months the shape Brexit will take should be significantly clearer, a development that is likely to inform Sturgeon's thinking on a second referendum.

Ms Sturgeon said: "I don't think Boris Johnson should be anywhere near a government office".

£21 million in new student support funding, which includes £16 million for new college bursaries from people from low-income families, a bursary for students who have come through the care system and raising the threshold for paying back student loans to incomes of £25,000 and above from 2021.

She said that if independence did not lead to a boost in Scottish economic growth, the country's deficit could still be "turned around" within five to 10 years without cutting public spending.

Around 750 nurseries in Scotland will be either built, expanded or refurbished by the end of the Parliament, Ms Sturgeon announced - describing this as a "huge national construction programme to give our children the very best start in life".

She also claimed on Sunday that the EU Withdrawal Bill, which is heading back to the House of Commons on Tuesday, is "unconstitutional" and has written to John Bercow, the Commons Speaker, asking for a vote on the issue of the Scottish Parliament refusing to grant consent for the legislation. "It's time for powers over migration to come to Scotland", Sturgeon will say.

Nicola Sturgeon on the Andrew Marr show
Nicola Sturgeon on the Andrew Marr show Credit PA

"They can choose to respect devolution, or they can prove what many in Scotland have long believed: the Tories cannot be trusted with the Scottish Parliament - not now, not ever". It is decision time for the Tories.

The SNP leader presented an alternative analysis to critics of the report from inside and outside the independence movement, including the Common Weal think-tank and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which have claimed the proposals in the Commission would lead to austerity.

Nicola Sturgeon has moved to dampen expectations that she will call a second referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn.

"That would see the poorest and most vulnerable members of society suffer even more than they already are under the Tories".

Brexit also featured heavily in a speech by the party's Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, who challenged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to drop his opposition to the United Kingdom remaining in the single market.

"The SNP leader opened her speech by talking about yet more North Sea oil extraction and the second point was about the opening of a new dual carriageway".

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