Nicola Sturgeon has drawn criticism from Scotland’s pro-Union political parties after telling a US broadcaster that the country will be independent from the UK within five years.
The First Minister made the prediction during an appearance on CNN’s Christiane Amanpour programme at the end of a week-long tour of the US and Canada.
Asked if she believed Scotland would be applying to the EU as an independent nation in the next three to five years, she replied: “I would love to think so and I think it will.”
She added: “I’m not going to put a particular timescale on it right now, but in the not too distant future, I think Scotland will be an independent country looking to join the EU as an independent country and looking to take a seat at the United Nations.”
Ms Sturgeon is expected to update MSPs on her plans for a second independence referendum before 29 March, the UK’s official leaving date from the EU.
Her latest remarks were criticised by the Scottish Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, who said she should not have been talking about independence during an official trade trip.
Scottish Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said: “Nicola Sturgeon took a full week away from government business to bang the drum for independence, and that’s completely unacceptable.
“The First Minister was supposed to use this dubious trip to promote Scotland’s business and economy. Instead, she spent her time lecturing America about her selfish plans to break up Britain.”
Lib Dem leader Willie Rennie added: “The last thing that most people want is turmoil with independence to top off the chaos of Brexit.
“Just imagine what could be achieved if the nationalists were prepared to spend five years working to improve health and education instead.”