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Sturgeon: There will be a second independence vote

The First Minister has said a vote will be held despite Downing Street's refusal.

The First Minister has insisted there will be a legal independence referendum before the UK leaves the European Union despite the UK Government saying it will not grant one.

In a speech to her party's conference in Aberdeen on Saturday, the SNP leader said she will press ahead with plans to seek the Scottish Parliament's approval for her government to formally request a referendum.

The power to call such a vote is held by the UK Government.

On Thursday, the Prime Minister said "now is not the time" for a referendum and the Scottish secretary, David Mundell, said Downing Street will reject any approach from the devolved administration until the UK has left the European Union.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1383210-theresa-may-rejects-nicola-sturgeon-s-call-for-indyref2/ | default

Mundell also said the UK Government was unwilling to open "discussions" about a referendum during this time also.

Sturgeon told the conference: "I know that the plan I set out on Monday was music to the ears of SNP members and independence supporters up and down the country.

"And let me set out again what that plan is.

"After the terms of Brexit are clear but while there is still an opportunity to change course, the people of Scotland will have a choice.

"There will be an independence referendum."

Sturgeon said she is willing to discuss the timing of the poll "within reason" with Theresa May.

"But let the Prime Minister be in no doubt," she warned.

"The will of our parliament must and will prevail."

Sturgeon said she understood not all Scots share her party members' enthusiasm for a new poll.

She said some people will be "feeling nervous and anxious, perhaps even resentful" about the prospect.

The SNP leader promised to publicly publish the findings of a report into the country's economy and how an independent Scotland's finances would be handled.

She said its findings will "address the challenges we face in a hard headed and realistic way" but "it will also set out the massive opportunities we have as a country".

The First Minister unveiled plans to boost the wages of those working in private nurseries in her speech.

The Scottish Government will provide local authorities with up to £50m to ensure private nursery workers providing the government's 600 hours of free nursery learning will be paid at least the living wage.

Around 8000 workers will benefit from the funding.

https://stv.tv/news/politics/1383311-sturgeon-refuses-to-rule-out-wildcat-independence-vote/ | default

Sturgeon also announced the creation of a £36m loan fund which firms can use to train their workforce in digital skills.

She told conference delegates: "Recent studies estimate that we need more than 12,000 new workers with digital skills every year.

"And yet only a quarter of businesses report that they are doing anything at all to develop the technology skills of their current workforces.

"We need to change that. Scotland can't afford to lose out on the digital revolution."

Responding to the speech, the Scottish Conservatives called Nicola Sturgeon a "part-time First Minister".

Deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "This is the week that Nicola Sturgeon gave up being First Minister and instead put her obsession with independence before the day job.

"This was a disappointing and negative speech. Nicola Sturgeon seems to be more interested in complaining about the UK Government than talking up her own.

"The SNP spends so much time plotting games over separation, it now relies on other parties for policies - our plan calling for mental health workers in GP practices and A&Es was published barely three months ago.

"It is flattering that the SNP are catching up, but that does not mask the fact that the vast bulk of this speech was yet another rallying call for independence.

"We now have a part-time First Minister claiming to speak for Scotland, but in fact pursuing her own narrow agenda to the detriment and against the wishes of ordinary Scots."

Labour accused the First Minister of being "out of ideas".

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "This was a speech from a First Minister who is out of ideas and obsessed by independence.

"Her attempt at wooing the majority of Scots who oppose her bid to leave the UK will fool nobody. The SNP still stands for division and grievance.

"If Nicola Sturgeon truly wants to listen to the people of Scotland, she will take the threat of a second independence referendum off the table.

"Nicola Sturgeon began her speech by attacking Gordon Brown, who helped to lift tens of thousands of children out of poverty.

"But there was nothing from the First Minister about using Holyrood's new powers to tackle child poverty; a stark contrast with Labour's plan to increase child benefit to address the growing scandal.

"Thirteen mentions of independence or being independent, yet not one mention of poverty - the SNP's priorities neatly summed up."

The Scottish Liberal Democrats accused Sturgeon of "hunting for division".

"Nicola Sturgeon repeatedly promised education would be 'front and central' but yet it hardly merited a mention in her address," Lib Dem leader leader Willie Rennie said.

"Mental health, another supposed priority, gets a few scraps instead of a step change investment it needs.

"In the blink of an eye her promises to our children and on mental health have been crushed by her out of control independence juggernaut.

"Nicola Sturgeon implies that only she speaks for the people but the people spoke three years ago and told her no.

"Instead of hunting for division the First Minister should sort out the problems on her own doorstep."

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