Nicola Sturgeon: SNP promises ‘hope’ during an ‘unfolding calamity’

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Nicola Sturgeon will call for her SNP colleagues to offer Scotland “optimism and hope” in a drive for independence as she closes their party conference today.

In her keynote address to the gathering in Glasgow, the First Minister will say that Scotland could be a “beacon for progressive values” once it is outside the UK.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 07:  First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon attends the 84th annual SNP conference. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - OCTOBER 07: First Minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon attends the 84th annual SNP conference. Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images.

Describing the handing of the Brexit negotiations by Theresa May (inset) as an “unfolding calamity”, she will call for the SNP to put forward a message of hope over the “despair” offered by Westminster.

Read more: Scottish independence vote ‘can happen without Westminster approval’

Ms Sturgeon will also announce an extension of fair work rules across the public sector, with the goal of increasing the number of Living Wage employers and reducing the gender pay gap.

Read more: Poll: Unionists would accept Scottish independence to get Brexit

“The Westminster Government stumbles from day to day and disaster to disaster. It’s hard to watch that unfolding calamity and feel anything other than despair,” she will tell delegates.

She will say: “So it is up to us – now more than ever – to offer optimism and hope.

“An independent Scotland, just as Scotland is now, will be a beacon for progressive values – equality, opportunity, diversity and fairness.

“Indeed, those values feel more important today than ever before in my lifetime.”

Ms Sturgeon will also announce plans to make business support grants and contracts funded by the Scottish Government fairer to workers, by obliging firms to meet specific criteria.

Nicola Sturgeon will call for her SNP colleagues to offer Scotland “optimism and hope” in a drive for independence as she closes their party conference today.