Childless Scottish nationalist leader Sturgeon reveals 2011 miscarriage

"We will not duck the tough issues", said Sturgeon at the launch of the "new debate" on independence, condemning the "glee of the unionist parties" at damning Scottish government financial figures.

The Welsh MP spoke on the day that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon launched a national survey seeking the views of two million Scots on independence, Europe and Brexit.

Joseph Stiglitz, an internationally-renowned expert who sits on Nicola Sturgeon's Council of Economic Advisers, said that a free-floating Scottish pound could be used to stimulate the economy and lower its towering deficit.

"If the SNP were really listening to the people of Scotland they would be focusing on the bread and butter issues that matter to Scots like our public services", Scottish Labour MP James Kelly said. We want Scotland to move on.

Sturgeon now wants to gauge opinion on whether independence is a viable alternative again and under what terms, a person familiar with the plan told Reuters.

With improving education the "defining mission" of her government, Ms Sturgeon said an Education Bill would be brought in to make the necessary legislative changes.

Polls indicate that a slim majority still prefer remaining a part of the United Kingdom, although many Scots are unhappy about leaving the European Union because Scotland itself voted to stay in.

It came following protracted discussions with the UK Government, when Ms Sturgeon, 46, also put her name to the 2012 Edinburgh Agreement committing herself to accepting the will of the Scottish people.

The party vowed in their last manifesto not to press for another referendum until there had been a "significant and material" change in circumstances - such as Brexit - and public support for it.

The politician added: "The UK that existed before June 23 has fundamentally changed". If we want to be independent, the legacy of that Westminster mismanagement will be ours to fix.

"The First Minister is putting the interests of her party ahead of the interests of Scotland by cynically using the European Union referendum result to try to create yet more division".

Labour has opened the door to years, if not decades of Tory government.

The listening campaign pushes any decision on a second independence referendum beyond the SNP's October conference.

Following the publication of extracts from a book in the Sunday Times, in which the author referred to Sturgeon losing a baby, the Scottish National Party leader said she hoped it would challenge some of the assumptions and judgements made about women, especially in politics, who don't have children. "Instead of reforming education to give our young people the skills they need to compete for the jobs of the future, Nicola Sturgeon is deciding to drag Scotland back to the arguments of the past".

Ahead of the First Minister's announcement, the Scottish Conservatives leader Ruth Davidson called on the Scottish Government to tackle fuel poverty. "That would mean £200 billion of new investment in schools, in skills, in hospitals and housing across the whole of the United Kingdom, £20 billion of that for Scotland".

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