Westminster resistance to giving Scots a second vote on independence will be “washed away” after another SNP election victory, Nicola Sturgeon has predicted.
Five years after people in Scotland voted to stay part of the UK, the country is facing the possibility of a snap general election.
While successive prime ministers have rejected the First Minister’s calls for a second independence referendum, Ms Sturgeon said that would change if her party won again at the polls.
The referendum took place after the SNP won a historic overall majority in the Scottish Parliament in the 2011 Holyrood election – the only time in devolution this has been achieved.
On September 18 2014, voters rejected independence, with 55% backing keeping Scotland in the United Kingdom.
Despite claims from SNP leaders at the time that the referendum would be a “once in a generation” event, Ms Sturgeon has already earmarked the second part of 2020 for a fresh ballot.
She said “so much has changed in the past five years” and that was why the issue should be put back to voters.
At the time of the referendum, Scots were told they could be cast out of the European Union if they voted Yes – but two years later the UK as a whole voted for Brexit, despite almost two-thirds of Scots supporting Remain.
The First Minister, who was in Berlin on Wednesday, said the 2014 referendum was the “biggest democratic event Scotland has ever had”.
Five years on, she said: “Scotland is being ripped out the EU against its will by the most dangerous Tory Government in modern history.”
As SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford joined young campaigners in Glasgow to make the case for a fresh ballot on the anniversary, Ms Sturgeon added: “It is worth remembering that nobody born this century had a say in 2014, or indeed a say in the UK’s ill-fated EU referendum.
“But young people from every town and community in Scotland will have their say in a fresh independence referendum – and I am confident that they will overwhelmingly vote Yes.”
The SNP won the most seats at Holyrood in 2016 after fighting that election on a manifesto that pledged there should be a second independence referendum if there was a significant change of circumstances from the 2014 vote.
In 2017 the SNP won a key vote at Holyrood, with MSPs backing the First Minister’s demands for power to hold a ballot to be transferred.
Ms Sturgeon said: “No Westminster Government, of any party, has the right to stand in the way of the sovereign right of the people of Scotland to determine their own future.
“A win for the SNP in any upcoming election will simply reinforce that – the Westminster wall of opposition to an independence referendum is already crumbling and another election win for the SNP will wash it away.”
Scottish Conservative interim leader Jackson Carlaw said Ms Sturgeon and her party needed to forget what might have been.
He said “Five long years after the referendum, the SNP is unable to understand that Scotland clearly voted No to independence.
“Instead of focusing on the day job, Nicola Sturgeon has focused to the exclusion of all else on the only thing that matters to her and her party – how to overturn the people’s verdict and run it all over again.
“It has been the longest hangover in political history – and it is Scotland that has suffered.
“A promise to guarantee waiting times – broken. A promise to deliver a radical new Education Bill – broken. A promise to spare low paid workers from tax rises – broken.”
Mr Carlaw added: “Five years on, it’s time the SNP focused not on what might have been but on what Scotland can be right now.
“We have what it takes to be the most prosperous and best educated part of the United Kingdom. Nicola Sturgeon needs finally to put her defeat five years ago to one side and deliver.”
Labour’s shadow Scottish Secretary Lesley Laird said the 2014 referendum result had “never been accepted by the SNP”.
She added: “Ever since they found out that they lost, they have been agitating for the referendum to be rerun.
“That is not what people in Scotland want and for one simple reason I’m not convinced it’s what Nicola Sturgeon wants – because she knows she would lose again.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said on the anniversary of the vote: “We had the power in our hands and we made the right decision for the future of our country.
“The Nationalists gave it everything for the once in a lifetime vote but the partnership of the United Kingdom endured.
“It is disappointing that the SNP have not stood by the Edinburgh Agreement after the legal, fair and decisive vote.
“The country has had enough division and damage with Brexit and independence. It’s time to make it stop.”