Nicola Sturgeon has insisted there is an “indisputable mandate” for a second independence referendum, as she launched the first of a series of papers “making the case afresh for Scotland becoming an independent country”.
The documents were the first to be unveiled in the Scottish Government's Building a New Scotland series at Bute House in Edinburgh on Tuesday.
Speaking to journalists, Nicola Sturgeon said: “Scotland, like countries across the world, faces significant challenges.
“But we also have huge advantages and immense potential. The refreshed case for independence is about how we equip ourselves to navigate the challenges and fulfil that potential, now and in future.”
She continued: “In their day-to-day lives, people across Scotland are suffering the impacts of the soaring cost of living, low growth and increasing inequality, constrained public finances and the many implications of a Brexit we did not vote for.
“These problems have all been made worse or, most obviously in the case of Brexit, directly caused by the fact we are not independent.
“So at this critical juncture we face a fundamental question. Do we stay tied to a UK economic model that consigns us to relatively poor economic and social outcomes which are likely to get worse, not better, outside the EU?
“Or do we lift our eyes, with hope and optimism, and take inspiration from comparable countries across Europe?”
She added, while the papers – seen as update of the independence white paper published in the run-up to the 2014 referendum – would “set out openly the challenges a newly independent Scotland would face”, she also stressed they would also “point the way” to a wealthier, fairer and more resilient nation.
The launch come after Ms Sturgeon’s SNP won the 2021 Holyrood election on a manifesto which included a commitment to hold another referendum on Scotland’s place in the UK once the Covid crisis had abated.
The SNP leader addressed crowds in Edinburgh today Russell Cheyne
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon believes there will be an unprecedented mandate for an independence vote GilesG Photography/SCDI
The SNP did not win a majority of seats in the Scottish Parliament in that election, but voters having also returned a record number of Green MSPs created a pro-independence majority within Holyrood.
Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie will join Ms Sturgeon in Bute House – the First Minister’s official residence – for Tuesday’s launch event.
The SNP leader has repeatedly made clear she wants a referendum before the end of 2023 – despite fierce opposition from the UK Government to such a vote taking place.
And while she said “having the full powers of independence does not guarantee a better future” for Scotland it was “striking just how successful” countries that are similar to Scotland were in comparison with the UK.
Such nations, she said, “can help point the way to a new Scotland that is wealthier and fairer, more resilient and better placed to help people with issues such as the cost of living crisis than a UK Government committed to a hard Brexit whatever the cost”.
Speaking ahead of the launch of the first paper, the First Minister added: “The Building a New Scotland series will set out openly the challenges a newly independent Scotland would face, how they could be overcome as well as the opportunities that come with independence – as demonstrated by the success of comparable independent nations as well as our own resources and talents.”