NICOLA Sturgeon’s Yes allies have warned her an independent Scotland would have “one hand tied behind its back” if it followed her economic model.

The Scottish Greens said the First Minister’s Growth Commission - her economic blueprint for independence - was an obstacle to “genuine economic independence”.

Criticising its “business-as-usual vision”, MSP Patrick Harvie asked her: “Why should we close off the possibilities that independence offers, now of all times?”

The attack underlined divisions in the Yes movement just a day after Ms Sturgeon set out plans for a second independence referendum by 2021.

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The SNP leadership has proposed adopting the Commission’s recommendations as party policy, but there has been a backlash from the grassroots.

The Commission said that in the first decade after a Yes vote, Scotland should continue using the pound and focus on deficit reduction and curbing public spending.

Only once it established market credibility and met six tests on trade, public opinion and economic divergence with the rest of the UK should it consider a new Scottish currency.

However many in the SNP, including Inverclyde MP Ronnie Cowan and former MP George Kerevan, say the six tests should be scrapped and a new currency adopted in the first term on an independent parliament.

Conference delegates are due to vote on which path to follow on Saturday afternoon.

Ms Sturgeon this week announced a new Holyrood bill paving the way for a second referendum by 2021 - albeit one reliant on UK Government consent.

At First Minister’s Questions, Mr Harvie welcomed the “positive announcement”.

Advocating a Green New Deal - using regulatory, fiscal and monetary powers to create a zero carbon economy and 200,000 new jobs - he said: “We continue to take the view that independence offers the chance of a new direction this country badly needs.

“Isn’t it also clear that neither devolution nor a currency union, not the business-as-usual vision set out in the SNP’s Growth Commission, would permit the genuine economic independence that we need to make that transformational agenda possible.

“Why should we close off the possibilities that independence offers, now of all times?”

Ms Sturgeon said: “It is healthy that a range of parties are backing independence and putting forward a range of views. The essence of independence is that we decide these issues for ourselves.

"My party conference is taking place at the weekend, when we will have a positive debate about how independence will allow us to emulate the success of other small, independent countries and become more prosperous and fairer as a result.”

Mr Harvie pressed on: “We need to have a clear contrast with a failed UK Government agenda, with its brutal austerity economics.

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“Without independence, we have one hand tied behind our back; under the growth commission, we would have the other hand tied behind our back instead, gaining political independence but without the real economic control that we need.

“People who were open to the idea but not convinced in 2014 are far more likely to back independence if it is based on a positive, bold vision for Scotland’s future.”

The FM replied: “I do not agree with Patrick Harvie’s comments about the Growth Commission.

“It set out the fact that so many small, independent countries are richer and fairer than Scotland. It set out how Scotland, as an independent country, could emulate those countries and create a strong economy but then, crucially, use the strength of our economy to build a fairer, more just society.

“That is the positive, bold vision that I look forward to campaigning on the next time—within this session of Parliament—that we give people in Scotland the choice on independence.”

Earlier, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard accused Ms Sturgeon of putting her party’s interests ahead of mitigating Tory benefit cuts though devolved powers.

Noting new figures on the rise of food banks, he said: “

The Scottish Government has said that it plans not to introduce an income supplement to help the poorest families in Scotland until 2022, but wants another independence referendum before 2021. What does that say about the First Minister’s priorities?”

Ms Sturgeon said she wanted to tackle poverty but it was not right that money for devolved issues was used to fix problems with reserved universal credit.

Mr Leonard said: “This is a matter of priorities. Labour thinks the Government should spend the 0.1 per cent of the Scottish budget that is needed to protect families from the impact of the two-child cap [restricting benefits to larger families].

“The First Minister has the powers to protect families from the two-child cap and she has the powers to fast-track an income supplement, but she chooses not to use them.

“She chooses instead to talk about the constitution: she chooses to play to her party base and she chooses to argue for a referendum that Scotland does not want.

“Since she became First Minister, she has pledged twice to call another independence referendum. In that time, at least three quarters of a million food parcels have been handed out to families in Scotland.

“Is not it the case that, when it comes to a choice between protecting the poor and protecting her party, the First Minister always puts her party first?”

Ms Sturgeon said that if Mr Leonard could not see the relationship between the constitution and Tory welfare cuts, he didn’t “deserve, ever, to be in Government in Scotland”.

She said: “We will continue to do everything that we can to mitigate the impact of those policies. We will bring forward policies of our own to lift children out of poverty.

“However, unlike Richard Leonard and the Labour Party, we will argue for those powers to lie in this Parliament, and not in the hands of the Tories.

“As long as Richard Leonard continues to back the Tories on the constitution, the people of Scotland will see him for exactly what he is.”