NICOLA Sturgeon will today warn a Tory Party led by a “reckless leader” will do more damage in Scotland in 18 weeks than Margaret Thatcher and John Major did in 18 years.

The First Minister will insist “immense damage” was done to Scottish communities by an “out-of-touch Conservative Party that governed, unelected in Scotland, for 18 years”.

She is expected to add: “But now I fear a similarly out of touch Tory Party, led by an even more reckless leader, could cause as much damage as Mrs Thatcher and John Major did.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon will ‘fully co-operate’ with Alex Salmond misconduct allegations probe

“But while they took 18 years, he, whoever it is, could do as much – or more – damage in just 18 weeks.

“Because by the end of October, Scotland could be heading for a No Deal Brexit.”

Ms Sturgeon is expected to make the comments at an event hosted by the think-tank Reform Scotland to mark 20 years of devolution.

She will say: “Throughout the last 20 years – and this is due to members from all parties – the parliament has sought to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.

“I believe the record of achievement is a significant one.  And it’s maybe telling that – in the most recent Scottish Social Attitudes Survey – 61% of people trust the Scottish Parliament to act in Scotland’s best interests. For the UK Parliament, the score is 21%.

“Social justice was central to the campaigns of the 1980s and 1990s which helped to create a Scottish Parliament. That was linked to concern about a democratic deficit.”

The First Minister is expected to add: “Instead of the chaos and dysfunction at Westminster, I believe people want a welcoming, tolerant, internationalist, European, equal, caring Scotland.

“We can achieve that country if Scotland’s future is truly in Scotland’s hands.

“That’s why, for all the undoubted successes of devolution, this has to be a time for taking stock.

“Scotland must have the option of choosing a different course.

READ MORE: Nicola Sturgeon calls Jeremy Hunt 'childish and pathetic' after Brussels snub

“The next six months could offer challenges greater than anything we have seen in the last 20 years. In my view they will inevitably require greater powers for Scotland – indeed the full powers that come with independence.

“But in discussing the shape of those extra powers, and how we gain them, we need to ensure that our debates are thorough, thoughtful and constructive – that we carry as many people as possible with us.

“If we achieve that, we can surpass – rather than simply fulfil – the hopes of 20 years ago. And we can ensure that Scotland’s new song is of a greener, fairer and more prosperous country.”