Ms Sturgeon issued yet another rallying cry for Scottish independence after Sinn Fein won 27 out of 90 seats in last week’s Stormont elections and Irish nationalists took control of Ulster’s executive for the first time. The SNP also had a successful set of results north of the border as Ms Sturgeon’s party made net 22 gains as they took control of Dundee City Council. Following the May 5 elections, the First Minister claimed it was now “obviously the case that there are very big fundamental questions being asked in every part of the UK, about UK governance in the years ahead”.
She added: “I think there’s a growing sense that the UK in its current state is not serving the needs of Scotland, Wales, or Northern Ireland or perhaps even England appropriately.
“And I think we will see big changes in the years to come and I’m convinced one of those changes will be Scottish independence.”
Ms Sturgeon also stressed that the Scottish Government will start to set out white papers preparing for independence “in the very near future”.
The First Minister went on to claim that the new paper, which comes a decade after a 700-page document was published, would be both “refreshing” and put a “very positive case for independence”.
But Pamela Nash, the former Labour MP for Airdrie & Shotts and chief executive of Scotland in Union, claimed there is no positive case for Scottish independence.
Ms Nash said: “The problem for the SNP is that the positive case for leaving the UK doesn’t exist.
“As part of the UK we can pool and share resources and risk, ensuring we can invest more in our NHS, schools and local services, while helping businesses to grow and create jobs.
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“Rather than building barriers between friends and families, Scotland’s best days are ahead of us if we work to bring communities together – not tear them apart.
“Nicola Sturgeon should change the record and focus on what really matters to people.”
The news comes after a Survation opinion poll, which was conducted on behalf of the pro-UK campaign group, showed that 58 percent of people in Scotland would vote to remain in the UK, with 42 percent voting to leave.
Scots had voted by 55 percent to 45 percent to stay in the UK, in a vote the ex-First Minister Alex Salmond said was a “once in a generation opportunity”.
In a further blow to Mr Sturgeon, the survey suggested just 29 percent of voters support Ms Sturgeon’s independence plan.
Six-in-ten respondents said they were against holding a referendum before the end of next year and 11 percent claimed they did not know.
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However, the First Minister is set to embark on an “independence tour” of the United States in an attempt to put Scotland on the map.
Ms Sturgeon is due to meet with members of the US Congress during the two-day trip.
Donald Cameron, the constitution spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, accused the SNP leader of abandoning local issues “to jet off on an indy tour to the United States”.
The Highlands and Islands MP added: “Instead of focusing on the issues Scots really care about, the First Minister would rather promote independence abroad at the taxpayer’s expense.
“The Scottish public will be outraged to see the First Minister taking her eye off the ball so soon after local elections – not to mention furious at this waste of taxpayer money in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.
“Nicola Sturgeon should be focusing on tackling her Government’s woeful record here at home, instead of taking the SNP’s obsession with independence on tour.”
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A new paper published by the Government in Holyrood on Monday stressed that Scotland “remain[s] committed to the European Union and its values” after Britain’s “disastrous and chaotic Brexit”.
The Scottish Government’s new Global Affairs Framework even stated that “rejoining the EU at the earliest opportunity as an independent country represents the best future for Scotland”.
It added: “The contribution that Scotland could make, and the benefits it could receive, would be significantly enhanced with the powers of independence rather than devolution.”
However, according to the Telegraph, Ms Nash responded to comments about Scotland’s position on the world stage if it obtained independence.
She said: “As part of the UK we are members of the G7 and the UN Security Council, which would both be lost if we break up the UK.
“Nicola Sturgeon should not use her foreign trips to grandstand about separation, which is supported by a minority of people in Scotland.”