Nicola Sturgeon has told Scots to prepare for two referendums next year – on independence and Brexit.
The SNP leader also said she believed the country was ready to choose a “better future” as an independent state instead of the “path of isolation” with Brexit.
The First Minister addressed a rally of activists in Johnstone, Renfrewshire, last night where she made the case for Scotland’s “right to decide” its own future in an independence referendum next year.
Ms Sturgeon will seek a section 30 immediately after the election from the new prime minister, which would transfer power to Holyrood to allow another vote on leaving the UK to be held.
Boris Johnson has said he will reject such a request, but Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn has indicated he could allow it.
The SNP also backs a second Brexit vote, which Labour has pledged to hold after it re-negotiates the existing withdrawal deal with EU leaders. Ms Sturgeon had earlier said a report into alleged Russian interference in British politics should be published without delay. The declaration came after former US presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said it was “inexplicable and shameful” the UK Government would not publish the report until after next month’s general election.
Ms Sturgeon was on the campaign trail in Edinburgh South yesterday, held by Labour’s Ian Murray, when she was asked if should would back two referendums in Scotland next year on Brexit and independence.
“Well the one on Brexit, that’s not my decision alone,” she said.
“We would support it. Obviously I’m focused on securing an independence referendum next year.
“The UK’s in a mess, it’s got to plot its way out of that mess and Scotland has to have the right to choose it’s own future.”
When subsequently asked if she supported a Brexit referendum next year, Ms Sturgeon said: “Yes.”
The First Minister later attended a rally at Johnstone Town hall, in the Paisley and Renfrewshire South constituency held by Mhairi Black at the last election, where she put Scotland’s constitutional future at the heart of the coming election.
“On December 12th, there is a fundamental question facing people right across Scotland – who decides Scotland’s future?” the First Minister said.
“Should it be Boris Johnson and a Tory government that we didn’t vote for? Or should Scotland’s future be decided by the people who live here?
“Whatever your views on independence, surely we should all agree that Scotland’s future must be Scotland’s choice.
“It’s not up to Boris Johnson, it’s not up to Jeremy Corbyn. It’s not even up to me.
“The decision on Scotland’s future is for you – and every single person in Scotland.
“For all the bluster from Westminster politicians, the reality is that everyone knows a fresh independence referendum is coming.
“And when the people of Scotland are next given a choice over their future, I am confident they will choose a better future with independence.”
Scotland is one the wealthiest countries in the world, the SNP leader added, providing a platform for an optimistic future outside the UK.
“We know that when we become independent, we’ll do it from the starting point of having human and natural resources that most countries can only dream of,” Ms Sturgeon went on.
“While the Tories drag the UK down a path of isolation from Europe, while they rip up workers’ rights and environmental protections in a desperate bid to get a trade deal with Donald Trump, we can choose a different path.
“We can be an outward-looking nation. We can be a bridge between the UK and the EU. To coin a phrase, some people might call that ‘the best of both worlds’.
“We can invest in our public services such as our NHS – and protect them from post-Brexit trade deals.
“All of this starts with a strong SNP result on 12 December. We must escape the disaster of Brexit and embrace the opportunity to choose our own future – a better future.”
‘Nothing but more division’
Tory interim leader Jackson Carlaw responded by hitting out at the prospect of two referendums being staged next year north of the Border.
“A Sturgeon-Corbyn alliance promising nothing but more division,” he said.
Mr Johnson has insisted the 2014 independence referendum was a “once-in-a-generation” event and he would not sanction a transfer of power to allow a repeat next year if he is returned as Prime Minister.
However, Mr Corbyn has indicated that it could happen in the “later years” of a Labour Government.
His comment has prompted widespread speculation that SNP MPs could back a Corbyn Government in the event of a hung parliament in exchange for the Labour prime minister granting authority for a referendum.
Ms Sturgeon also used the campaign trail yesterday to declare the battle to end child poverty must be enshrined in law as she slammed the Tories “shameful” record in tackling the issue.
The SNP leader’s call for “real and determined” action comes at a time when almost quarter of a million of Scots children live in poverty, with claims her own Government could be more ambitious in tackling this.
New payments specifically to help children living in poverty are being demanded by Ms Sturgeon as the latest Department for Work and Pensions figures showed 30 per cent of children across the UK are in poverty, slightly higher than the 24 per cent recorded in Scotland.
“SNP MPs will demand the next UK government match our ambition, stops making poverty worse and follows our approach – lifting incomes up instead of pushing them down,” Ms Sturgeon said.