Nicola Sturgeon says she believes Scotland will vote for independence in a referendum next year.
The first minister says the “preparatory work” for a second independence referendum in 2023 is already well underway, and says she believes a growing number of people in Scotland are switching to be pro-independence.
Speaking on BBC Sunday Morning, Ms Sturgeon says issues such as Brexit and having Boris Johnson as prime minister are factors in the growing support for independence in Scotland.
Plans for IndyRef2 in 2023
Ms Sturgeon said: “Preparatory work is underway right now.
“We have not decided on a date to introduce the bill, but that will be decided in the coming weeks and it is my intention to take steps to facilitate a referendum happening before the end of 2023.
“That is the proposition that just short of a year ago I fought an election on and was re-elected as first minister and my party was re-elected with a historically high share of the vote.
“But this is about democracy and choosing our own fate.
“If you look at everything that has been happening over the years now in Westminster, the chaos, the instability, the unpredictability, then I think there are a growing number of people in Scotland who are thinking ‘actually, we could do much better as an independent country’.”
Boris Johnson ‘the price’ of the union
The first minister also adds it was right for the SNP to halt its plans to campaign for a second independence referendum during the coronavirus pandemic, adding Boris Johnson should have done the same with Brexit.
She added: “I believe people will choose an independent future.
“If you told me as a much younger politician that one day 50% support for independence would be seen as a failure, I would have grabbed that with both hands.
If you told me as a much younger politician that one day 50% support for independence would be seen as a failure, I would have grabbed that with both hands.
– First Minister Nicola Sturgeon
“But support is rising and I believe we will choose independence, not just because of the current occupant of No 10 but because that demonstrates Scotland too often ends up with things put upon us, not least Brexit and a party we did not choose.
“That is the price of not being independent.
“Independences puts our destiny, fate and future in our own hands and I believe that’s what people will choose.”
Poll shows opposition to devo-max
Ms Sturgeon’s comments come after a poll found 55% of Scots want a second independence referendum to not include ‘devo max’.
The study by Savanta ComRes for Scotland on Sunday found more than half wanted a referendum to be limited to just staying in or leaving the UK.
Only 26% of those polled would like to a see a third option on the table of devo max, which would see Scotland take control of every area of governance, including full taxation powers, but not defence and foreign policy.
The poll found Labour supporters were most likely to back calls for devo max, however only 32% of SNP voters would support the idea of three options being on the independence ballot paper.
Lib Dems hit back at claims
In response to Ms Sturgeon’s interview Alex Cole-Hamilton, leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, says she should be focusing on dealing with spiralling A&E waiting times and education rather than campaigning for a second independence referendum.
Mr Cole-Hamilton said: “The first minister promised to put the recovery first.
“If that was the case she would be focusing on the A&E figures currently the worst on record, the 275,000 operations lost to the pandemic, the social care system on its knees or the soaring attainment gap in schools.
“We heard nothing about those this morning.
“Last week Nicola Sturgeon ordered her MSPs to vote down my plans for a new burnout prevention plan for NHS staff in desperate need of extra precaution.
“The news that her government is busy preparing the case for independence instead says everything about this SNP/Green government’s priorities during this hardest of winters.
“Our country has been held back for too long by the clash of nationalisms.
“Scotland needs new hope for the climate, for health, for our young people and our businesses.
“It is the Scottish Liberal Democrats that will get on with putting forward the fresh ideas.”