General Election 2019: Second indyref vote at heart of SNP campaign
At the 2015 general election, Ms Sturgeon had asked Labour and Liberal Democrat voters to "lend" the SNP their support to block the Tories, declaring that it would not mean a vote to support independence. At the time she said: "A vote for the SNP is not a vote for another referendum. It is a vote to have Scotland’s voice heard at Westminster.”
The SNP went on to secure a landslide victory taking 56 of Scotland's 59 Westminster constituencies with Ms Sturgeon declaring it a "mandate on an unprecedented scale". Two years later, however, when Theresa May called a snap election, the SNP lost 21 seats.
However, today, launching her party's campaign in Stirling, where SNP MEP Alyn Smith is standing, she was clear that the SNP would regard winning in Scotland as a mandate for holding a second independence vote.
She said: “Westminster is broken. It’s time to take Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands.
“The number one issue for Scotland at the election is this: who should determine our future - Boris Johnson or the people who live here?"
She added: “Scotland is a crucial battleground in this election. Voting SNP will help to lock the Tories out of government.
“A general election is Scotland’s chance to come together to reaffirm our opposition to Brexit and our right to decide.
“Labour can’t win in Scotland. The Liberal Democrats can’t be trusted - they’ve put a right-wing Tory government into power before. Scotland has been ignored and treated with contempt by Westminster, and this election is an opportunity to bring that to an end.
“A win for the SNP will be an unequivocal and irresistible demand for Scotland’s right to choose our own future.”
Scotland's largest pro-UK campaign group, Scotland in Union, said it was clear the SNP would use "every vote and every seat it won as ammunition to break up the UK".
Chief executive Pamela Nash warned that anything Nicola Sturgeon or SNP candidates said about public services or other election topics during the campaign "would be ignored straight after polling day, when only dividing the UK will matter for the party."She added: “This is a crucial General Election campaign for the future of the UK. Every single vote in Scotland counts, whether you live in a marginal or a seat where the incumbent MP has a large majority.
“Regardless of what any SNP candidate says during the campaign, the Nationalists will use every vote they receive as ammunition in their fight to tear apart communities and break up the world’s most successful union. This is their number one priority.
“Whatever your views on Brexit, it’s clear Scexit is not the answer. It would involve erecting a hard border with England, scrapping the pound and slashing public services.
“Wherever you live in Scotland, if you care about solidarity, economic strength and our public services, then you should vote for a pro-UK candidate.”