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Scottish Independence And Hard Brexit Inextricably Linked, Says Nicola Sturgeon

"The time is coming to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands," the first minister told the SNP conference in Glasgow.

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Jane Barlow / PA Wire/Press Association Images

Scotland will vote on independence again if Theresa May's government delivers a "hard Brexit", Nicola Sturgeon has said.

She told the SNP conference that her government would propose new powers to keep Scotland in the European single market even if the UK leaves the EU.

In her closing speech in Glasgow on Saturday, Scotland's first minister told 3,000 party members in a packed hall that after the vote to leave the EU, she believes "more strongly than ever" that Scotland will become independent.

During her speech Sturgeon made a direct appeal to Scots who rejected independence in 2014's referendum and those who voted Leave in the EU referendum in June, saying there's "more that unites us as a country than will ever divide us".

The first minister announced on Thursday that the Scottish government will next week publish a draft of a new independence referendum bill, marking the first step to Scotland holding a rerun of 2014's vote.

"I promised at the start of our conference that we will seek to protect Scotland's interests in every way that we can, and we will," Sturgeon said.

"We will work with others across the political divide to try to save the UK as a whole from the fate of a hard Brexit. We will propose new powers to help keep Scotland in the single market even if the UK leaves.

"But if the Tory government rejects these efforts – if it insists on taking Scotland down a path that hurts our economy, costs jobs, lowers our living standards, and damages our reputation as an open, welcoming, diverse country – then be in no doubt.

"Scotland must have the ability to choose a better future, and I will make sure that Scotland gets that chance."

Jane Barlow / PA Wire/Press Association Images

The first minister repeatedly criticised the "xenophobia" that she said was on display at the Conservative conference in Birmingham last week, and paid tribute to NHS staff in Scotland "wherever they were born", in a response to a hint from prime minister May that foreign doctors won't be welcome in the UK after 2025.

It's become clear over the course of the SNP conference that if there is another vote on independence, Sturgeon will make it a case of an inward-looking "Brexit Britain" vs an internationalist Scotland as part of the EU, and Sturgeon reiterated that point in her closing speech.

"We know what kind of country we want Scotland to be, and I believe it's a vision that unites us," said Sturgeon. "An inclusive, prosperous, socially just, open, welcoming, and outward-looking country. The question now, in this new era, is how best to secure it.

"Let's resolve as a nation to answer that question together. We have already come so far. Our home rule journey has given us new confidence – new self-belief. A determination not to be taken backwards, but to finish building tomorrow’s Scotland.

"Friends, the time is coming to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands."

Jamie Ross is a Scotland reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in Edinburgh.

Contact Jamie Ross at

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