Nicola Sturgeon has said the SNP remains focused on delivering a second independence referendum as the party steps up its campaign ahead of next week’s European elections.
Speaking to the media this morning, the first minister said that a strong performance from the Nationalists at the May 23 poll would send “the strongest possible message that Scotland does not want Brexit”.
The SNP leader added that legislation would be brought forward later this month as part of the intitial steps required to stage a possible IndyRef2.
But the Scottish Conservatives said it was time to deliver a “sensible Brexit”.
Ms Sturgeon told MSPs last month that she wanted to stage a second referendum by 2021 if Brexit takes place.
“My focus as SNP leader is firstly on winning the European elections next week because that’s how we send the strongest possible message that Scotland doesn’t want Brexit,” the first minister said in an interview today.
“Then of course the legislation we’ll bring forward later this month in taking the steps to give people in Scotland a choice of independence later in this term of parliament. That’s my focus as SNP leader and that’s what the party is focused on.”
Current polling suggests the SNP is on course to better its performance at the last European elections in 2014, when it returned two of Scotland’s six MEPs.
The Nationalist leader has previously called for Labour voters to back her party over Jeremy Corbyn’s “confused” stance on Brexit.
Scottish Conservative deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: “Nicola Sturgeon has made clear today that, as she puts it, ‘her focus’ at these elections is a second independence referendum.
“Once again we see the reality: it doesn’t matter what the election is– Nicola Sturgeon’s priority is always to try and use it to push through the one thing she cares about – independence.
“Only by voting Scottish Conservative and Unionist on May 23rd can people send her a message - no to any more referendums.
“It’s time to respect the results of the referendums we have held, deliver a sensible Brexit and then let Scotland and the whole UK move on.”
European elections are held every five years, with the UK electing 73 MEPs to sit in the 751-member Parliament in Brussels and Strasbourg.