Sturgeon pledges healthier ties after independence

DEPUTY First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has admitted she “hates” the SNP policy on tuition fees, under which an independent Scotland would charge only those from the rest of the UK.

Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon speaks at University College London. Picture: PA

But in a speech at University College London yesterday, she said independence would bring a “healthier” relationship between Scotland and the other parts of the British Isles.

Ms Sturgeon insisted she “feels British in some ways” and that the referendum is “not a campaign about identity” but that Scotland would be “better at running its own affairs”.

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In her speech, she dismissed the pro-UK argument that it would be better to stay together to pool resources and share risks, claiming that case was “built on sand”.

Ms Sturgeon, the SNP’s deputy leader, argued that “privatisation of the NHS in England” would lead to Scotland receiving less money through the so-called Barnett consequentials and that this showed how pooling resources worked against Scottish values.

While she refused to contemplate defeat, Ms Sturgeon set out the criteria she believed would be needed to make more devolution work as an alternative to independence.

She said: “An alternative offer could be credible if it has substantial proposals on tax, welfare and employment policies. It has to be agreed by all the UK parties and there needs to be a clear timetable.”

Ms Sturgeon told her audience that she “loves London” but mocked Prime Minister David Cameron for “love-bombing Scotland” from London last week.

However, she praised the UK government for helping set up the “Edinburgh Agreement”, which underpins the Scottish referendum.

In response to a Catalan journalist asking about Catalonia’s independence referendum, which is not recognised by the Spanish Government, she said: “The Edinburgh Agreement should be the model for other countries. Each country has a right to self-determination.”