Nicola Sturgeon: New independence referendum if United Kingdom backs hard brexit

In her opening remarks at the conference, Sturgeon confirmed that the Referendum Bill would be published for consultation next week.

Ms Sturgeon ridiculed the Tories handling of Brexit since the European Union referendum.

"If the Tory government insists on taking Scotland down a path that hurts our economy, costs jobs, lowers our living standards and damages our reputation as an open, welcoming, diverse country, then be in no doubt Scotland must have the ability to choose a better future", she said.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Thursday she would publish draft proposals for a new national ballot.

Referring to Prime Minister Theresa May's speech at the Conservative party conference, Sturgeon said: "Make no mistake - today, we face a choice of two futures".

National governments including those of Germany, Denmark, Estonia and the Czech Republic refused to meet her - while the prime minister of Spain, at pains to slap down separatists at home - flatly said that Scotland had no prospect of staying.

She hit out at the Tories, describing their vision for the United Kingdom as "xenophobic, closed, inward looking, discriminatory" as she told the conference: "Let's be frank, the Tories are no longer the Conservative and Unionist Party".

Foreign affairs are not the Scottish Government's responsibility.

She also said the debate over Scottish independence had changed since 2014's referendum.

The number of Scottish Development International staff operating in Europe will be doubled from 20 to 40, while the new trade envoy scheme will use "prominent and successful Scots" to boost exports.

Ms Sturgeon will also highlight the "stark" choice facing the country, between being governed by the "hard right" Tories at Westminster or the SNP in Edinburgh.

Experts warn if Scotland was inside the single market and England outside, it would create a "hard" border restricting the movement of goods, services and people between the two.

"We are in a completely new era".

Again, she does not dare claim that May has no right to lead Scotland out of the European Union - because it isn't true.

"I think it is in Nicola's hands and I am quite happy to wait until Nicola gives the green light - but I do think we have to keep the pressure up".

She said it was not acceptable to have a "secret negotiating strategy" and it should be shared with the public and endorsed by parliament.

Kezia Dugdale, the Scottish Labour leader, said: "Nicola Sturgeon's top priority is to divide our nation once again".

Brown told a gathering of Scotland's corporate community that he was aware of businesses re-evaluating the case for independence on the basis of the potential for Scotland to benefit from the stability of membership in the European single market.

She will pledge that the Scottish Government would draw on the best business expertise to set up its Board of Trade.

Thomas said that Brexit would in time require central government to look at giving income-tax-raising powers to regional authorities.

She added: "The House of Commons and the wider public has nearly been told to butt out and mind their own business, and we saw in the House of Commons last week t here's not a lot of support for that kind of approach".

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