Nicola Sturgeon urges SNP activists to show 'patience' as she keeps them waiting on indyref2
Nicola Sturgeon has warned SNP members eager for another independence referendum that they must do more to persuade voters about the merits of breaking up the UK first.
The Scottish First Minister said nationalists must show "pragmatism, perseverance and patience to persuade those not yet persuaded".
She said that if they do so "the momentum for independence will be unstoppable".
Delivering her keynote speech to the SNP conference in Glasgow, Ms Sturgeon also launched a ferocious attack on the UK government's "shambolic, chaotic, and utterly incompetent" handling of the Brexit negotiations.
Opinion polls suggest that any future Scottish referendum will be too close to call if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.
That has led to fresh calls from many SNP members for Ms Sturgeon to again call on Theresa May to give Holyrood the legal power to hold another poll on separation.
The SNP leader said: "To those who say there is no demand for Scotland to have a choice over our future, I say - the polls and the people are telling a different story.
"Our job is to take that passion and blend it with pragmatism, perseverance and patience to persuade those not yet persuaded.
"If we do that, then believe me - the momentum for independence will be unstoppable. So let the passion shine through.
"But let us always strive to see the argument from the other point of view. We have a duty to answer questions as fully as we can. We owe the people of Scotland no less."
On Brexit, Ms Sturgeon paraphrased Winston Churchill as she accused the Prime Minister of pandering to her most eurosceptic MPs.
She said: "Today, we face warnings of medicines shortages, grounded aeroplanes, gridlock at ports and a haemorrhaging of investment. They’ve even appointed a Minister for Food Supplies, for goodness sake. We haven’t had one of those since Winston Churchill was Prime Minister.
"It brings to mind those immortal Churchill words about the sacrifices of the RAF in World War 2 - 'Never was so much owed by so many to so few'.
"Well when the history books tell the story of this Tory government, selfishly driving the UK towards a hard Brexit just to appease its own ideologues, the verdict will be damning. Never has so much been lost by so many to satisfy so few."
But Scottish Conservative MSP, Annie Wells pointed out that Ms Sturgeon's speech made no mention of education, which she had previously said was the Scottish government's top priority.
She said: "Nicola Sturgeon asked her supporters to stay patient - the truth is that most people lost patience with the SNP a long time ago. Astonishingly, in a speech littered with references to independence, there was just a glancing reference to education.
"It was a staggering omission and it tells you all you need to know. Education isn’t her number one priority – the only priority the SNP has is separating our country in two.
"This was a tired speech from a tired Government which has run out of ideas, apart from the only one they’ve ever had.
"Scotland deserves better and the Scottish Conservatives are determined to provide it."