Sturgeon to request powers for indyref2 this year
The First Minister wants to hold a second Scottish independence referendum in 2020.
Nicola Sturgeon has confirmed she will formally request the powers to hold a second independence referendum by the end of this year.
The First Minister said she will seek the transfer of Section 30 powers from Westminster during the passage of the Referendums Bill at Holyrood.
The legislation, introduced in May, sets out the rules and regulations for future referendums and is intended to pave the way for another independence vote.
Sturgeon has vowed to pass the law by the end of 2019 with a view to holding a fresh independence referendum in the latter half of next year.
The First Minister made the announcement to returning MSPs as she laid out her administration's annual programme for government.
She said the "centrepiece" of her government's new programme deals with the climate emergency but added it could not ignore the "political and constitutional emergency that is engulfing the UK".
Sturgeon was previously refused the power to hold a referendum by then-PM Theresa May back in 2017, and Boris Johnson has indicated he is also opposed to allowing a new independence vote.
But the FM said it "now seems inevitable that there will be an early UK general election" and vowed to put the case for an independence at the heart of the SNP's campaign.
With the Brexit deadline of October 31, Sturgeon said her government remained focused on "ensuring continuity of medicine and food supplies" in the event of no-deal and reassuring EU nationals living in Scotland.
The First Minister said: "As long as no-deal remains a risk, we will be doing everything we can to ensure that Scotland is as prepared as we can be.
"However, unlike the UK Government, we will be honest about the inability to prevent all of the harm that a catastrophic no-deal Brexit would inflict."
She also pledged to "lay the foundation for a new Scottish Green Deal", with a raft of policies designed to boost Scotland's bid to reduce carbon emissions to net-zero by 2045.
The programme for government further committed ministers to installing hundreds of counsellors in Scottish schools - a pledge it failed to meet last year - and to investing £20m over two years towards tackling drug deaths.
Sturgeon detailed plans for 14 Bills in the next year on issues including hate crime, redress for survivors of in-care abuse, and the option of civil partnerships for heterosexual couples.
On an independence referendum, the First Minister said: "I can confirm today that, during the passage of the (Referendums) Bill, we will seek agreement to the transfer of power that will put the referendum beyond legal challenge."
'We will seek agreement to the transfer of power that will put the referendum beyond legal challenge.'Nicola Sturgeon
She added: "We have a clear democratic mandate to offer the choice of independence within this term of Parliament - and we intend to do so."
The First Minister insisted Scotland deserves "the opportunity to choose that better, more hopeful future as an independent country" and said her government "is determined to offer it".
On the climate emergency, Sturgeon said: "The year ahead will consolidate Scotland's position as a leader in the battle against climate change."
"It will see landmark policies, long in the planning, come to fruition."
Among those is the Scottish national investment bank, the First Minister said, adding: "Tackling climate change will be central to the investment decisions we make".
She continued: "It lays the foundation for a new Scottish Green Deal, with measures to reduce emissions, support sustainable and inclusive growth, promote wellbeing and create a fairer society."
The government will support the growth of low-emission vehicles including buses along with a "transformational" £500m investment for bus services over the next few years.
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw slammed the First Minister on her independence referendum push, urging her to "give it a rest".
He said: "It's typical of the First Minister that her statement both began and ended with independence. It really is the be-all-and-end-all for her nationalist government.
"Not only did she confirm her plan to push ahead with an unnecessary and unwanted Referendums Bill, but we also learned the utterly discredited White Paper from 2014 is finally set to be binned.
"The people of Scotland have had enough of this. They simply want Nicola Sturgeon to give it a rest."
Carlaw was met with opprobrium from the SNP benches when he seemed to question if Sturgeon's hair colour was real, in what the FM dubbed an "ill-advised quip".
Responding to the programme for government, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "At the weekend, the First Minister wrote in a national newspaper that 'it is more important than ever that the Scottish Government continues to act in a calm, considered and consensual way'.
"Can the First Minister tell us is she calm that housing costs continue to rocket beyond people's means?
"Is she calm that the reliance on food banks in Scotland is at an all-time high?
"Is she calm that public transport is run in the interests of profit, not passengers?"
Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvie said the announcement of a "Scottish Green Deal" was a "cheap imitation of his party's own proposals made last week.
'This programme for government is a cheap imitation of ours. Her version lacks the ambition, scale and courage required of an emergency response.'Scottish Green co-leader Patrick Harvue
Harvie said: "Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery after all... it is gratifying to see the First Minister adopt our language.
"I am obviously pleased that, six months after she declared one, the First Minister has recognised that the climate emergency requires more than just ambitious targets.
"But this programme for government is a cheap imitation of ours. Her version lacks the ambition, scale and courage required of an emergency response."
He added: "The response to the climate emergency cannot be piecemeal. It must mobilise the economy behind a just transition, one that creates jobs, gets Scotland moving and gives people warm homes."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said the government had taken its eye "off the ball" at the expense of public services.
"People across the country are paying the price for this government's ineptitude," he said.
"This is a government whose eye has been taken off the ball because their primary focus is on independence.
"Communities shouldn't lose out because of the SNP's constitutional obsessions. Liberal Democrats demand better for our public services."
At a glance: The programme for government
- £500m of investment to reduce congestion in towns and cities by introducing new priority routes for buses.
- Decarbonise rail services by 2035 and scheduled flights within Scotland by 2040.
- Consultation on how to create "zero-emission city centres" by 2030.
- Legislation that will allow charges to be applied to single-use coffee cups.
- Scottish national investment bank to provide at least £2bn over ten years to "ambitious companies and projects" with a primary focus on the net-zero by 2045 target.
- The First Minister said efforts to reduce emissions were "compatible with our ambitions to boost Scotland's productivity".
- The Scottish Government will enable councils to introduce a tourist tax - also known as a transient visitor levy - on hotel stays.
- Sturgeon said local authorities could choose to implement the policy "if they consider it right in their local circumstances".
- Last year's promise to install 350 counsellors in schools was not met, but the government has said it will achieve this target by this time next year.
- A further £17m will be put into a fund to help councils set up a "community wellbeing service".
- A total of £10m each year to be made available over the next two years to help tackle drug deaths - of which there were a record 1187 last year.
- The First Minister said the money would "support new and existing projects and test different approaches" to solve what she called a "public health emergency".
- Following the last-minute failed opening of the new Sick Kid's Hospital in Edinburgh, NHS building projects will now be overseen by a new watchdog.
- The new Royal Hospital for Sick Children has been postponed indefinitely because of a fault in the ventilation system.
- Men and women will be able to have civil partnerships rather than marriage in Scotland under new proposed legislation
Hate crime and sectarianism
- A new Hate Crime Bill will "consolidate and update" existing laws, the FM confirmed.
- She said: "The vital importance of tackling hate crimes was underlined by the unacceptable sectarian disorder that took place on the streets of Govan last Friday night."
- As part of the "Good Food Nation Bill", legislation will be brought in to further regulate the amount of sugar and processed red meat in school meals.
- It will also seek to increase the amount of fruit and veg and fresh local produce being served in school canteens.
Poverty and homelessness
- Legislation to introduce a new Scottish Child Payment of £10 a week to eligible families, with plans for the first payments to go to families with children under the age of six starting before next Christmas.
- From spring next year, a new "Job Start payment" is scheduled to come in - a one-off £250 payment for young people to help them cover expenses like travel and clothes for new jobs.
- A new £4.5m fund for charities involved in tackling homelessness to help them "improve and in some cases transform the services they provide".