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

Nicola Sturgeon told the SNP conference her party had an ‘unarguable mandate’ for another vote.

Image: PA

NICOLA STURGEON SAID 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.

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.

But she also restated her intention to hold another independence referendum when the coronavirus crisis is past.

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”.

While the Prime Minister has so far rejected all calls for another vote, Sturgeon said 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”.

But she insisted: “This much is clear. Democracy must and democracy will prevail.”

Sturgeon was clear she wants there to be “a legal referendum within this term of Parliament, Covid permitting, by the end of 2023”.

Speaking about the coronavirus pandemic, she 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.”

Sturgeon insisted that leading the Scotland through the ongoing Covid crisis was “the most important job”.

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But her speech sought to look to the future to the prospect of “better days ahead”.

She also highlighted the “the different vision of society we in the Scottish Government have from those at Westminster”.

Offering asylum to those in “dire need”, such as the people fleeing Afghanistan, is an “expression of our common humanity”.

But he she claimed the UK Government’s Nationality and Borders Bill “fails that basic test of humanity”.

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”.

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”.

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