Nicola Sturgeon says Brexit 'shambles' boosts case for second Scottish independence referendum
The "shambles" of Brexit has bolstered the case for a second Scottish independence referendum, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as the SNP's annual conference kicked off in Glasgow.
The Scottish First Minister is under pressure from independence activists to push for a fresh vote on Scotland's place in the UK.
But she has already signalled that any new demand for a second vote will have to await the outcome of Theresa May's talks with the European Union.
Speaking as the SNP's conference got underway, Ms Sturgeon took aim at the Government's handling of the Brexit process, saying the Conservatives and Labour had "fallen apart into bitter faction-fighting".
The SNP leader added: "The shambles of Brexit makes the case for independence more compelling than ever – with Westminster ignoring Scotland’s voice and interests and undermining devolution with a power grab on the Scottish Parliament.
"Over the next few days, the SNP will be setting out further action to help with the cost of living, improve the NHS and boost jobs and wages and we will be demonstrating how the power of independence - taking decisions in Scotland rather than at Westminster - will lead to a better country for this and future generations."
SECOND BREXIT VOTE
Ms Sturgeon is also facing calls from her own supporters to back a second vote on Britain's membership of the EU, according to a new poll.
Scotland voted heavily in favour of staying in the EU at the 2016 Brexit referendum, and a fresh YouGov survey of more than 600 SNP members found that 89% would back a new referendum on the Government's final deal with Brussels.
Meanwhile, 79% told the poll - commissioned by the People's Vote Campaign - that the party's Westminster MPs should support an amendment calling for a second Brexit referendum if one comes before Parliament.
Just 8% said the MPs should oppose such an amendment, while 13% said the SNP's parliamentarians should abstain.
A spokesperson for the People’s Vote campaign said: "There is growing support in every part of the UK to give voters the democratic opportunity to cancel Brexit, and the SNP and people of Scotland have a crucial role to play to cleaning up a mess that is not of their making."
'MUST BE A RIGHT'
The poll came as the SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford hinted that his party could back a second Brexit referendum if Scotland is given the chance to vote again on independence.
The senior MP said it would be "very, very difficult" to deny the people of Scotland a second independence vote if the UK held a fresh EU referendum and again backed Brexit.
He told The Observer: "We have to have the protection of knowing that if the UK has a second vote and we end up in the same situation as we had in 2016, we would be able to determine our own future. That would be only right and proper."
He added: "There has to be the right for Scotland to call a second referendum on independence."