Nicola Sturgeon has called for a new spirit of “Scottish assertiveness” in the year ahead as she insisted the prospect of independence remains an option to avoid the “horror” of a hard Brexit.
The First Minister shelved plans for a quickfire second vote on Scotland leaving the UK after the SNP suffered heavy losses in last year’s UK election when the issue dominated the campaign.
But Ms Sturgeon has insisted she still plans a second referendum when the final terms of Brexit are clear for Scots. She warned in an article yesterday that the year ahead could be “one of the most significant in Scotland’s recent history.”
“I believe it will be a year in which a new Scotland continues to emerge, an emboldened, more confident and assertive nation,” she stated.
“That is perhaps not the most obvious conclusion to draw from the ongoing horror show of the Tories’ inept and chaotic Brexit plans, which threaten to do deep and lasting damage to our economy and society.
“But it is because of that over arching threat that I believe a new spirit of Scottish assertiveness is needed and will come to the fore.”
She added: “Last year, I made clear we will scrutinise the detail of any final Brexit deal negotiated by the UK government before deciding the next steps in terms of giving people a choice on Scotland’s future.
“However, I have been clear all along that the threat to Scotland’s interests means independence must remain an option.”
The Scottish Government will this month publish an analysis of the economic impact of each of the likely post-Brexit trade options facing the UK.
She said SNP MPs and MSPs would continue to oppose Conservative plans for a hard Brexit which takes the UK out of the single market and customs union. She also accused Scottish Labour of “colluding” in their London leadership’s ambivalent approach to Brexit.
Tory MSP John Lamont said Ms Sturgeon promised to put her plans for independence on pause and “focus on her day job” after last year’s election reverse. He added; “It’s clear from her words today that she intends to break that promise within months – and once again put independence top of her agenda.
“It is yet another failure of leadership from a First Minister intent on putting her party’s nationalist agenda ahead of Scotland’s national interest.
“As one of her own MPs said last week, most Scots don’t give two hoots about independence.
“It’s time Nicola Sturgeon listened for once and focused on what we pay her to do – sort out our schools, support the NHS and grow Scotland’s economy.”