First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told delegates at the SNP conference that Scotland “will one day become an independent country” as she stressed her intention to keep the nation “at the very heart” of Europe.
The SNP leader, who joined the party 30 years ago, said she has never doubted Scotland would become an independent nation, adding: “And I believe it today more strongly than I ever have before.”
June’s Brexit vote was a key part of Sturgeon’s address to the 3,000 supporters at the conference in Glasgow.
Scotland’s desire to stay in the European Union was much stronger than in the rest of the UK.
A total of 62% of voters wanted to remain as a member state, compared to just 48% in the UK overall.
Sturgeon said that she would work with parties from across the political divide to oppose a “hard Brexit” and keep Scotland in the Single Market.
But she added: “If it (Theresa May’s government) 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.”
Sturgeon added: “Friends, the time is coming to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”
In Scotland’s 2014 Independence Referendum, 55% voted for Scotland to remain part of the UK.
But Sturgeon said that the political landscape had changed significantly since 2014, adding: “Back then it even seemed possible that there would be a Labour Westminster government in the next 20 years.
“But the future looks very different today.”
The SNP leader continued: “And make no mistake, it is the opponents of independence, those on the right of the Tory party intent on a hard Brexit, who have caused the insecurity and the uncertainty.
“So it falls to us, the advocates of independence, to offer solutions to the problems they have created.
“Of course, independence would bring its own challenges. That is true for every independent nation on Earth. But with independence, the solutions will lie in our own hands.
“It will be up to us to chart our own course and be the country we want to be, not the country that an increasingly right wing Tory government wants us to be.”
Sturgeon’s comments come just days after she fired the starting gun on a second Scottish Independence Referendum, announcing that a consultation on the issue will be published next week.
The Scottish First Minister said her country had the right to seek a better future if remaining in the UK would expose it to instability.