Nicola Sturgeon says 'why' of independence still more important than 'when'

Nicola Sturgeon said people should stop obsessing about the timing of another referendum

Nicola Sturgeon said people should stop obsessing about the timing of another referendum Credit PA

Immigration, however, is the thorniest political issue in the Brexit negotiations, and limiting the number of foreigners who enter the United Kingdom was a central element on which Britain's overall 2016 vote to leave the European Union rested.

But she pulled back from that after last year's snap general election, which saw the SNP lose 21 of the seats it had won in Westminster two years before.

She said the British government was "paralysed" over Brexit, which the SNP strongly opposes, "and the sooner it holds no sway over Scotland, the better".

Ms Sturgeon has previously said she will do so in the autumn, when the implications of Brexit become clearer.

As a result she said a nurse with five years' experience in Band 5 would be £430 better off, a healthcare assistance at the top of Band 3 would receive £630 more than someone of the same level in England, and an auxiliary nurse with just one year's experience could earn more than £830 more by working in NHS Scotland.

"I don't know where it takes us if they are prepared to rip up this convention", Ms Sturgeon said.

"And as our precious NHS reaches its 70th birthday it comes with our grateful thanks for all that they do".

With the Scottish Government having already pledged to nearly double free early years education to 1,140 hours by the end of this Parliament, she spoke out about how this policy would not only help families but give the country an "economic boost" too.

Nicola Sturgeon on the Andrew Marr show
Nicola Sturgeon on the Andrew Marr show Credit PA

She also warned that the EU Withdrawal Bill, which is heading back to the House of Commons on Tuesday, is "unconstitutional" as it stands and she is writing to Commons Speaker John Bercow asking for a vote on the issue of the Scottish Parliament refusing to grant consent for the legislation. "It's time for powers over migration to come to Scotland", Sturgeon will say.

The first minister's speech, which is scheduled to start at about 15:30, will bring the two-day conference in Aberdeen to a close.

Speaking ahead of the event the party's Westminster leader said: "The SNP will always protect the powers of the Scottish Parliament and the devolution settlement that so many people fought so hard for".

She is committed to updating the public on the timing of a possible new referendum on Scottish independence in the autumn, a spokesman for her party said.

The SNP leader presented an alternative analysis to critics of the report from inside and outside the independence movement, including the Common Weal think-tank and the Institute for Fiscal Studies, which have claimed the proposals in the Commission would lead to austerity.

"That would see the poorest and most vulnerable members of society suffer even more than they already are under the Tories".

"Bizarrely, despite claiming education was her top priority, she forgot to mention it altogether. This was a exhausted speech from a leader running out of time".

"She is out of touch and leading a divided party".

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