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Nicola Sturgeon insists the time is ‘approaching’ for Scots to vote on independence

Scotland’s First Minister was clear she wants there to be “a legal referendum within this term of Parliament, Covid permitting, by the end of 2023”

Nicola Sturgeon insisted she has an “unarguable mandate” to hold a second vote on Scottish independence, as she launched a fierce attack on the UK Prime Minister.

The Scottish First Minister and SNP leader criticised Boris Johnson and his Conservative government for its stance on immigration, over Brexit, and on plans to hike National Insurance and cut Universal Credit payments.

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Nicola Sturgeon at her home in Glasgow preparing the speech she will give to the SNP National Conference virtually on September 12 (Photo by Jane Barlow/Pool/Getty Images)

At a glance: 5 key points

  • She sought to use her speech to the SNP national conference to contrast the different approaches taken by her government in Edinburgh and Johnson’s at Westminster
  • She also restated her intention to hold another independence referendum when the Covid crisis is past
  • While the Prime Minister has so far rejected all calls for another vote, Sturgeon said she hoped the two governments could reach an agreement, as happened in 2014, “to allow the democratic wishes of the people of Scotland to be heard and respected”
  • She went on to slam the Tories at Westminster for their decision to push ahead with a “hard Brexit right in the midst of a global pandemic” with Sturgeon insisting this both “unnecessary and unforgivable”
  • Her fiercest criticism was reserved for plans to scrap the £20 uplift in Universal Credit that was brought in as part of the response to the Covid pandemic

What’s been said

Speaking about the pandemic, Sturgeon said: “The crisis is not yet over, but we will get through it.

“And then it will be the time to think not of the past but of Scotland’s future.

“To decide who should be in charge of that future.”

The First Minister insisted: “People in Scotland have the right to make that choice.

“To decide to take our destiny into our own hands and shape a better future.

“Trust me, the time for that choice is approaching.”

Background

The SNP won its fourth consecutive term in power at Holyrood in May’s Scottish elections, and Sturgeon insisted that that victory “represents an unarguable mandate to implement the manifesto we put before the country.”

This included plans for another independence ballot, with Sturgeon telling supporters the time to make a decision on Scotland’s future was “approaching”.

Meanwhile the UK Government’s planned hike in National Insurance contributions, to boost funding for the NHS and social care “fails the basic test of fairness”.

“This will be the biggest overnight reduction to a basic rate of social security since the 1930s,” Sturgeon said, adding that it will impact on millions of people across the UK.

For these people she said “the loss of more than £1,000 a year will be utterly devastating” adding: “It will quite literally take food out of children’s mouths.”

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