Nicola Sturgeon to declare: It is time for Scotland to become independent

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Nicola Sturgeon will today declare it is “time for Scotland to become independent”.

And the Scottish First Minister will cite a recent poll, indicating support for independence has risen to 49%, as an argument for Theresa May’s Westminster Government to drop its opposition to a second referendum on the matter.

On Thursday, David Lidington, the PM’s de facto deputy, dismissed the prospect of a fresh independence vote, saying: “We don’t see any evidence that there’s a demand from the people of Scotland for changing the decision they took in 2014.”

But after polling by YouGov showed support for Scotland leaving the UK had gone from 45% last summer to 49%, Ms Sturgeon will tell the SNP conference in Edinburgh the Tories are already being proved wrong.

The First Minister will address party activists just days after telling MSPs there should be a second independence referendum before the next Holyrood election in May 2021 – suggesting later that such a ballot could take place even if Brexit does not go ahead.

“It is time – time for Scotland to become independent,” the SNP leader will say in her keynote speech.

“The last three years have shown, beyond any doubt, that for Scotland the Westminster system is broken.

“Scotland needs the choice of a better future. Scotland needs an independent future.”

Nicola Sturgeon
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon in front of a European flag at the SNP European Elections Campaign Conference (Andrew Milligan/PA)

Hitting out at Conservatives on the issue, she will say that while “their only friends in Parliament are the Democratic Unionist Party”, Mrs May and her party could “go down in history as the Undemocratic Unionist Party”.

The SNP leader will tell the conference: “On Thursday, they tried to justify their position by saying there was no upsurge in support for independence.

“Two days later the latest opinion poll was already proving them wrong.

“It shows support for independence already up. So our job now is to get it surging. And ensure that no Tory government can ever stand in the way of Scotland’s right to choose.”

The Scottish First Minister will also use her conference speech to unveil plans to “help get the balance right” between short term holiday lets and permanent accommodation in areas where platforms such as Airbnb are impacting on housing.

The move is part of a £150 million housing package, which will also include targeted support to help first-time buyers.

Ms Sturgeon will accept Airbnb, with its “cheaper, more flexible travel” options is “one of the reasons Scotland’s tourism industry is booming”.

But she will add: “For others – particularly in tourist hotspots, like the centre of this city – it is making it harder to find homes to live in.

“So today, we are setting out new plans to help cities like Edinburgh, and islands like Arran, get the balance right.”

The Scottish Government is seeking “views on a new system of regulation to make short-term lets subject to the same controls as any other accommodation,” the First Minister will announce.

She will say: “We want to give councils the power to control the number of lets and ensure they make a contribution to the services they use.”

Green MSP Andy Wightman has repeatedly raised concerns about the impact short-term holiday lets have on Scotland’s housing market.

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