Nicola Sturgeon rules out Catalan-style rogue independence referendum
Nicola Sturgeon has risked triggering an internal party row after she ruled out an illegal Catalan-style independence referendum in Scotland.
The SNP leader confirmed she would demand Westminster hand over the formal powers to trigger a fresh vote by the end of this year in order to put the "legality" of any new bid "beyond doubt".
Speaking at her party's annual conference in Aberdeen, Scotland's First Minister said she had a "cast iron mandate" to hold a new contest, but claimed that any new poll must comply with the law.
It comes after senior SNP figures urged her to consider a 'Plan B' option if Boris Johnson refuses to grant the legal powers to pass the required legislation.
But Ms Sturgeon told supporters that any new independence bid must have the "recognition of the international community".
"We have a cast iron mandate for an independence referendum," she said. "That fact is beyond doubt.
"But we don’t just have a right to offer the people of Scotland a choice over their future.
"In the circumstances now Scotland faces, we have a duty to do so. And it is what we intend to do. But let me be clear about this.
"The process by which we choose Scotland’s future must be capable of actually achieving independence. It must allow majority support to be expressed clearly and unambiguously. It must be legal.
"And it must have the recognition of the international community. Why?
"Because our job is not just to deliver a referendum. Our job is to deliver independence."
Her comments come after opposition leaders in Catalonia were jailed earlier this week for their role in organising an illegal referendum over the region's independence from Spain in 2017.
Meanwhile, high-profile MPs, including Angus MacNeil, have argued that an SNP majority of seats in any future election would demonstrate a mandate for Scottish independence without the need for a fresh referendum.
But Ms Sturgeon said the "question should not be to the SNP" if her request is blocked by Westminster.
She added: "The question should be demanded of the Westminster parties – what gives you any right to deny people in Scotland our ability to choose our own future?"
The First Minister also claimed that support for Scottish independence was "rising" and that a referendum "must happen next year".
"By the new year, we will have completed our legislative preparations," she said. "We are already working to update the independence prospectus.
"And I can confirm today that before the end of this year, I will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a referendum beyond any doubt."