Nicola Sturgeon: Brexit shambles strengthens independence bid

The campaigners waved giant blue Scotland flags and sported kilts as they congregated in a park near the Scottish Parliament building

Ms Sturgeon said her MPs would vote down any Brexit plan that ruled out the single market or customs union.

That confirmed May can not rely on any SNP support in what is expected to be a tight vote to approve the outcome of her negotiations.

The SNP is the third largest party in Westminster and as such would have significant sway in any knife-edge vote on a second referendum or final Brexit deal.

Outlining a different route to separation, she said: "There has to be a democratic event, and I choose those words wisely, it doesn't have to necessarily be a referendum, it could be something else, like a general election".

She compared that decision as a choice between the "fire or frying pan".

While not ruling out the possibility of a no-deal Brexit, Sturgeon said that what was most likely was a "cobbled-together agreement around the withdrawal issues including the Northern Ireland backstop, that is only achieved by fudging". "I think that is nearly as unacceptable as no deal at all".

039;All Under One Banner' pro-independence protesters take part in a march and rally in Edinburgh
039;All Under One Banner' pro-independence protesters take part in a march and rally in Edinburgh

She told the Conservative Party conference that "we had the people's vote, and the people voted to leave".

The MP for Ross, Skye and Lochaber will say: "Time and time again, the SNP and others have fought to ensure that Scotland's remain vote is respected in the European Union negotiations - but the Tory cabinet is completely in thrall to the hardline Brexiteers who could not care less about jobs, living standards and public services in Scotland".

Scotland's first minister said the party's 35 MPs in Westminster would support another so-called People's Vote if given the option. "Brexit brings the issues around this very sharply into focus - that democratic deficit that we've seen in the last two years".

The renewed calls for independence will be encouraging for the SNP, although Sturgeon feels that these are being driven by confusion over Brexit.

A spokesperson for the People's Vote campaign said: "There is growing support in every part of the United Kingdom to give voters the democratic opportunity to cancel Brexit, and the SNP and people of Scotland have a crucial role to play to cleaning up a mess that is not of their making".

The First Minister was speaking after a march in support of independence saw thousands of people pack the length of the Royal Mile in Edinburgh.

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