Nicola Sturgeon has said it is “bonkers” for people to question her commitment to Scottish independence as she confirmed her intention to stand in next year’s Holyrood election.
The First Minister also stated she would serve another full term if elected in the 2021 vote for the Scottish Parliament.
Speaking in a wide-ranging interview with BBC Scotland she reaffirmed the party’s “strength” with independence also gaining favour in recent opinion polls.
Last month a Panelbase poll in the Sunday Times had support for a Yes vote in an independence referendum at 54% and support for No at 46%.
Ms Sturgeon said: “People are entitled to draw whatever conclusions and make whatever judgments of you that they want, that’s democracy.
“I’ve spent my entire adult life campaigning for Scottish independence, I believe in Scottish independence with every fibre of my being, I also believe that Scotland is going to be independent sooner rather than later and I’m also the SNP leader that now presides over support for Scottish independence.
“Let’s just say I’m pretty comfortable in my own commitment to independence and other people can question it if they want but I think it’s bonkers.
“The SNP is in a position of strength that parties the world over would love to be in and we’ve got as a party to recognise that we don’t exist in some kind of bubble, we are the governing party of Scotland.
“Right now the majority of the people in the country we serve are worried about their health, they’re worried about their jobs, they’re worried about their ability to pay their bills.
“Opinion polls would suggest they massively trust the SNP to lead them through that crisis – if they ever thought the SNP was turning away from that priority, and focusing on its own agendas and engaging in infighting, I’m sure they would pass a verdict on that.”
Last month a new Alliance for Independence party was formed which will reportedly run under the slogan “Max the Yes” in the May 2021 ballot, with Ms Sturgeon previously saying she wants the SNP “united” before next year’s vote.
SNP MP Joanna Cherry also performed a U-turn in her decision to run for Holyrood in 2021 – barring a change in circumstances – blaming a “particularly unreasonable” demand from the party.
It came after suggestions the party’s ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) could bring in a new requirement for sitting MPs wishing to stand for Holyrood to secure at least £10,000 of funding towards the subsequent by-election campaign.
Ms Sturgeon warned the party should not “ever get into the trap of focusing on our own preoccupations” such as “internal disputes or feuds or personality clashes”.
She added: “This was not about excluding one person.
“This is a decision the NEC took which was not about barring a Westminster MP standing for Holyrood but saying that if you were selected as a Holyrood candidate then in enough time before the election, you have to demit your Westminster seat in order to allow the by-election to be on the same day as the Holyrood election.
“The NEC I think wanted to guard against the possibility of lots of Westminster MPs deciding to stand and then create a whole slew of by-elections.
“It’s not an illegitimate decision for the NEC to have taken, I appreciate that people will see in the context of other things, but that’s the decision they took.”