Nicola Sturgeon falls in behind Humza Yousaf’s independence strategy as she denies being the Liz Truss of the SNP

The former first minister appeared at the SNP Conference on its second day.

Nicola Sturgeon has backed her successor’s decision to ditch her preferred independence strategy as she denied being the Liz Truss of the SNP.

In a surprise appearance at the party’s conference in Aberdeen, the former first minister who remains under investigation by police, denied overshadowing Humza Yousaf.

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Greeted by the loudest cheers of the conference with a hall swamped by delegates and members hanging over railings to catch a glimpse, she was also flanked by four close allies, social justice secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville, education secretary Jenny Gilruth, net zero secretary Mairi McAllan, and former Westminster leader Ian Blackford.

Former leader Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the SNP annual conference at the Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) in Aberdeen.Former leader Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the SNP annual conference at the Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) in Aberdeen.
Former leader Nicola Sturgeon arrives at the SNP annual conference at the Event Complex Aberdeen (TECA) in Aberdeen.

She told assembled journalists she would give Mr Yousaf’s independence strategy to kick off independence talks if the SNP wins a majority of seats her “full, unequivocal support”, despite it replacing her plan to fight the general election as a “de facto” referendum.

Ms Sturgeon said: “One of the reasons I took the decision to step down was that I believed I’d given it my all on moving the country to independence but that I had taken it as far as I could.

"I think in those circumstances it was right, in fact that was my objective, the party took the time to consider the way forward it wanted to adopt.

"It did that yesterday, it did that unanimously as far as I can see yesterday and that position has my full, unequivocal support."

Ms Sturgeon rejected suggestions she was a liability to the SNP after the First Minister said the ongoing police investigation into the party’s finances repeatedly came up on the doorstep during the Rutherglen by-election.

The former SNP leader was arrested and released without charge, alongside her husband and the former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell and former party treasurer Colin Beattie MSP.

She said “no” when asked if police had been in touch, and said she was concentrating on writing her book.

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The Crown Office is yet to receive a report from Police Scotland for consideration for prosecution, with enquiries ongoing.

Asked if she was the Liz Truss of the SNP, alluding to the way the former Prime Minister was mobbed at Conservative conference, Ms Sturgeon said “how long did it take you to think that up?”

Pressed on the answer, she added: “Don’t be ridiculous.”

Asked why the party lost in Rutherglen so badly, she called on the party to stand on its record.

The former SNP leader said: "I’ve just come down the steps there that are littered with the achievements of the SNP and I think what the party is doing and what the party needs to do is remember and remind people why we won so many elections in past almost 20 years now.

"It is about being on the side of people who aspire for a better life for themselves and their kids, it’s about standing up and providing a voice for people who are often marginalised when necessary, standing up to vested interests and always standing up for Scotland and making the connection between the belief in independence on those issues that people have as priorities."

Ms Sturgeon also denied she was overshadowing Mr Yousaf despite the focus on her surprise appearance, claiming that it was clear the SNP leader was “in charge of this conference”.

Earlier, the First Minister said he was “delighted” his predecessor had come to conference.

“She’s a member and she has every right to be here and I'm certain conference will really look forward to seeing her as well,” Mr Yousaf said.

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Laughing off the question of whether he would be overshadowed and his attempts to move on from the police investigation would be undermined, the SNP said he believed Ms Sturgeon would receive “a lot of love, quite rightly, and adulation”.



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