SNP conference: Sturgeon attacks 'shambolic' UK government


Nicola Sturgeon at SNP conferenceImage copyright
PA

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Ms Sturgeon’s speech is scheduled for 15:30 on Saturday

Nicola Sturgeon will contrast the “shambolic” UK government with her party’s achievements at Holyrood when she addresses the SNP conference.

She will also repeat her call for immigration policy to be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

But she is not likely to address the potential timing of any second independence referendum.

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

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.

There will be live coverage of the speech on the BBC news website, and on BBC2 Scotland.

In her speech, the first minister will claim that the “shambolic Westminster Tory government is holding Scotland back, while the Scottish government is moving Scotland forwards”.

She will highlight the “disastrous” impact she believes the UK government’s “hostile migration policy” is having on Scotland’s public services and economy.

Ms Sturgeon will add: “Scotland is a welcoming country – our prosperity and our public services depend on it.

“If Westminster cannot or will not act in our best interests, it is time that our own parliament was able to do so. It’s time for powers over migration to come to Scotland.”

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Reuters

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About 2,000 delegates were expected to attend the two-day conference

Attracting more people to Scotland was a key part of the SNP’s Growth Commission report, which was met with a mixed response from independence supporters when it was published a fortnight ago.

The report examines the economic options for an independent Scotland, and proposes keeping the pound and embarking on a major deficit reduction programme in the first years after leaving the UK.

Ms Sturgeon will also announce that the flagship £150m Building Scotland fund – the precursor to the Scottish National Investment Bank which was unveiled as part of this year’s budget – is “open for business”.

She will say that £70m will be invested in the coming year, including £25m to support at least 3,000 new homes.

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EPA

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Prof Clara Pansati will speak at the conference directly ahead of Ms Sturgeon’s address

Pro-independence Catalan politician Clara Ponsati, who is fighting a legal battle against being extradited from Scotland to Spain, will speak directly before Ms Sturgeon.

Prof Ponsati had been working as the director of the School of Economics and Finance at the University of St Andrews since January 2016, before being appointed as the Catalan government’s education minister last year.

She returned to work at St Andrews earlier this year, having been in Belgium since fleeing Spain with Catalonia’s ex-leader Carles Puigdemont and three other former cabinet members following an unsuccessful bid to declare independence from Spain in October.

Prof Ponsati has been accused by the Spanish authorities of rebellion – defined under Spanish law as being involved in a violent uprising – and misappropriation of public funds for her role in the Catalan referendum

What’s happened at the conference so far?

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PA

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Ms Sturgeon congratulated Keith Brown after he won the contest to become her deputy as party leader

The conference opened on Friday morning with Keith Brown being confirmed as the SNP’s new deputy leader following a vote by party members.

Mr Brown, who is also Scotland’s economy secretary, succeeds former MP Angus Robertson in role after finishing ahead of activist Julie Hepburn and Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny in the contest.

After being announced as the winner, Mr Brown urged activists to “get ready” for a second independence referendum.

However, he backs Ms Sturgeon’s stance of waiting for greater clarity over Brexit before making any decision on the potential timing of another vote on whether to leave the UK.

Away from the conference hall, Ms Sturgeon warned the UK government against pushing through its Brexit bill next week without the consent of the Scottish Parliament.

She told BBC Scotland the move would be “unprecedented” and would put the country into “uncharted” constitutional territory.

Brexit also featured heavily in a speech by the party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, who challenged Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn to drop his opposition to the UK remaining in the single market.



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