Nicola Sturgeon has reaffirmed her desire to hold another Scottish independence referendum next year, as she campaigned on the eve of the General Election.
Amid claims the SNP’s calls for a 2020 vote have become less prominent after polls suggested support for independence has fallen, Ms Sturgeon said: “I want a referendum next year.”
The First Minister also said her “message has been consistent throughout the campaign”, in response to the suggestion she has stopped pushing her desired timetable for another referendum.
“I want a referendum next year,” she said.
“My message at the start of this campaign was vote SNP to keep Boris Johnson out of office, to escape Brexit and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.
“My message at the end of this campaign is to vote SNP to keep Boris Johnson out of office, to escape Brexit and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.
“And Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands is – in my view – allowing a choice on independence next year.”
The SNP leader has repeatedly said Scotland should have the powers to decide to hold a re-run of the 2014 vote, but Boris Johnson has promised to never allow another referendum while he is Prime Minister and Jeremy Corbyn has said it would not happen “in the first years of a Labour government”.
In order to stage another referendum, the Scottish Parliament would need to obtain Section 30 powers, which currently need to be granted by Westminster.
On the final day of the campaign, Ms Sturgeon said recent polling suggests a Conservative victory is “not inevitable”, and she urged Scots to back the SNP in Tory-held seats to deny Mr Johnson a majority.
She said: “I think the message from the YouGov poll couldn’t be clearer – a Tory victory is not inevitable, it can be stopped.
“But in Scotland, where the SNP is the challenger to the Tories, that means voting SNP.
“There’s not a single Labour/Tory marginal in Scotland and voting for other parties – whether that is Labour or the Liberal Democrats – risks letting the Tories in the back door.
“So vote SNP if you don’t want Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.”
The First Minister was speaking outside a florist in the Edinburgh South seat, having visited a community greengrocer earlier on Wednesday morning.
Asked why she was campaigning in a constituency won in 2017 by Labour’s Ian Murray rather than seats where the SNP is hoping to overcome Conservative incumbents, Ms Sturgeon said she is “fighting everywhere”.
She said she will spend the final day of campaigning visiting a variety of seats, including the East Dunbartonshire constituency where Lib Dem leader Jo Swinson is standing.
Ms Sturgeon said: “I’m fighting to win every constituency because I think it’s better for Scotland to have strong SNP voices making sure our interests are heard, and that’s why there’s not a single constituency that’s off-limits for the SNP.
“But it is absolutely true to say that the SNP is the challenger in every Tory-held seat and that’s why if we want to help lock Boris Johnson out, you’ve got to vote SNP in Scotland.”