General Election 2019: Independence referendum set to dominate debate in Scotland

Brexit may dominate the forthcoming UK election campaign but in Scotland the issue of independence is certain to come to the fore.

First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has already declared she will put the call for a second vote on the issue at the heart of her party's campaign.

She made that clear when she addressed the SNP conference in Aberdeen earlier this month.

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Ms Sturgeon said when the election campaign takes place her party's message will be "clear, simple and unambiguous - vote SNP to demand independence and secure Scotland's right to choose".

Nicola Sturgeon with Boris Johnson. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon with Boris Johnson. Picture: PA
Nicola Sturgeon with Boris Johnson. Picture: PA
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She was also explicit that in the event of a hung parliament her party would make having another independence ballot an automatic condition for gaining the SNP's support.

While she insisted the SNP would "never put the Tories into power" her message to Jeremy Corbyn was: "If you don't respect Scotland's right to choose our own future at a time of our own choosing, don't even bother picking up the phone."

Mr Corbyn said on a recent visit to Scotland there would be "no pacts with any other party".

Labour, he said, would be fighting the election "to win it in every part of the UK".

Together with the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, Labour will use the campaign to highlight their opposition to both independence and a second referendum.

With people having voted for the union in 2014 and with about one million Scots having voted to quit the European Union, the Tories will echo the message of UK leader Boris Johnson that it is time to get Brexit done.

But polls have suggested the Tories, who took 13 seats in Scotland in the 2017 general election, could lose most of those seats this time round.

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With Brexit still unpopular in Scotland - 62% of voters north of the border backed Remain in 2016 - the SNP will be hoping to make gains when voters go to the polls.

Any increase in their current tally of 35 MPs will be interpreted by the party as a rise in support for independence.

The Liberal Democrats, with Scottish MP Jo Swinson at the helm, will also be making the case for staying in the EU.

They won four seats north of the border in 2017 and will be campaigning hard in North East Fife, where Stephen Gethins, the party's Europe spokesman at Westminster, won by just two votes - giving him the smallest majority anywhere in the UK.