Nicola Sturgeon to publish 'scene setter' as she outlines new independence vision

Nicola Sturgeon is to publish a “scene setter” ahead of the release of a series of documents setting out her vision for an independent Scotland.

The First Minister’s spokesman confirmed she would begin publishing the papers before Holyrood rises for summer recess at the end of this month.

It has been reported the first document – described as a “scene setter” – could be released as soon as next week.

It will include policy proposals, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman said.

Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images

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The First Minister and Constitution Secretary Angus Robertson have overseen the preparation of the papers, which will set out the updated case for independence.

However, Ms Sturgeon’s spokesman refused to say whether legislation for a second referendum will be published before recess.

He said he was “not going to get into specific timing” but said it would be published this year.

Ms Sturgeon has repeatedly said she wants to hold a vote in 2023, but the UK Government is unlikely to agree to this.

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Elsewhere, ministers were pushed on whether the £20 million earmarked for a referendum next year will be redeployed if it does not take place.

Conservative MSP Donald Cameron said the Scottish Government faced “severe” funding challenges.

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The Government’s recent resource spending review, which sets out its broad spending plans for coming years, earmarked £20m for a referendum in 2023/24.

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This was criticised by opposition politicians, who pointed to real terms spending cuts of more than £1 billion elsewhere, hitting key areas such as councils and the police.

During a meeting of Holyrood’s constitution, Europe, external affairs and culture committee, Mr Cameron asked Mr Robertson and finance secretary Kate Forbes if they thought a referendum would take place before the end of 2023.

Ms Forbes replied: "That is the intention, and certainly that is what we're working towards."

Mr Robertson said "yes" and argued the Scottish Government had a democratic mandate to hold another vote.

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Mr Cameron then asked if the funds would be redeployed if the timetable slips or if a referendum does not happen, adding: "If that transpires, will you redeploy the funding of £20m within the culture portfolio given the very severe challenges that portfolio faces?"

Mr Robertson said the other option was the UK Government "respects the result of the Scottish Parliament election".

Pushed on the issue, he said: "We're going to have a referendum, aren't we?"

Earlier, Mr Cameron asked about cuts to Historic Environment Scotland (HES), which sits within the Government’s wider constitution, external affairs and culture portfolio.

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Its funding is set to drop from £61m in 2022/23 to £48m in 2026/27.

Mr Robertson said HES “is significantly better funded in global terms than other parts of the portfolio”, but acknowledged it was an "area of significant challenge".

Labour MSP Sarah Boyack asked about the more than 50 HES properties that remain closed to the public while emergency surveys are carried out to assess the state and safety of the structures and the effects of climate change on their deterioration.

Mr Robertson acknowledged that there is a “major challenge for HES in general”.

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