Nicola Sturgeon to set out thoughts on independence in ‘substantive’ statement

Nicola Sturgeon is to reveal more about when a second vote on Scottish independence could take place in a “substantive” statement to MSPs.

Holyrood’s schedule has been altered to include a 30-minute address from the Scottish First Minister on the issue of “Brexit and Scotland’s future”.

Back in January, the SNP leader said she would give an update on a possible second independence referendum in a “matter of weeks”.

With Prime Minister Theresa May having agreed an extension to Brexit that could keep the UK in the European Union until October 31, Ms Sturgeon is now due to issue a “detailed and substantive” statement.

The First Minister will use the address to set out her “thoughts on independence and how that relates to where the country currently finds itself”, her spokesman confirmed.

He stated: “The First Minister will give a detailed and substantive statement setting out the path forward for Scotland amid the ongoing Brexit confusion at Westminster.”

Wednesday’s statement is the “first available opportunity” for her to update MSPS since the EU granted a six-month extension to the Article 50 process, he added.

The First Minister is not thought to have notified Mrs May or Downing Street about her plans.

A Number 10 spokesman said the PM’s stance on the issue of a second Scottish referendum “has not changed” – with Mrs May having previously made clear her opposition to such a ballot.

Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw claimed the statement showed the First Minister’s “real priority” was “her plan for a divisive second referendum on independence”.

He said: “Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to be judged on education, yet here we see her passing up the opportunity to talk about that very subject.”

Mr Carlaw continued: “The only reason this statement is happening at all is because Nicola Sturgeon put a second independence referendum back on the table following the EU vote.

“She has obsessed about it ever since.

“All this keeps open the divisions from the 2014 referendum – and leaves us with less time spent focusing on getting Scotland’s economy growing again.

“In a week when we learn young people are having their subject choices curtailed by the SNP, it is a disgrace that Nicola Sturgeon is yet again indulging her own obsession.”