NICOLA Sturgeon has said she still wants a second independence referendum even if she stops Brexit, saying the issue is now merely an “illustration” of Westminster misrule.

The SNP’s Holyrood manifesto of 2016 said it would take a “significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014” to justify Indyref2 in the current parliament, “such as Scotland being taken out of the EU against our will”.

However campaigning in Dundee, the First Minister indicated that was no longer the case.

With Ms Sturgeon saying as vote for the SNP in the general election is a vote to “stop Brexit”, she was asked whether doing that meant losing the justification for Indyref2.

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The BBC’s Glenn Campbell asked her: “First Minister, If you manage to stop Brexit, will you not deny yourself the justification for an independence referendum next year?”

She replied: “No is the short answer to that. The proposition I’m putting to the people of Scotland in this election is that Brexit illustrates why we need to be in charge of our own future.

“Brexit is the most extreme example of the broken nature of the Westminster system for Scotland, but it is only one example, one illustration.

“Even if Brexit is stopped and the UK remains, there is no guarantee that down the line we’re not back there. People like Nigel Farage are no simply going to pack up and go away.

“There is no guarantee that we don’t have other policies imposed on us by a Tory government we don’t vote for.

“So Brexit has brought into sharp relief this fundamental question. If we want Scotland to be the country we all believe it can be, then how do we best secure that?

“Do we best secure that by allowing people like Boris Johns, Nigel Farage, even Jeremy Corbyn to determine Scotland’s path and what kind of country we are, or do we take that future into our own hands and decide these things for ourselves?

“And I think increasingly people in Scotland are seeing the benefit of being in charge of our own destiny.” 

Ms Sturgeon also twice failed to give a timescale for the transition to independence.

In the 2013 White Paper, the SNP Government said it could be achieved in the 18 months between the vote in September 2014 and the Holyrood election of May 2016.

However, Ms Sturgeon’s proposed timetable of late 2020 for Indyref2 leaves only around half that time before the 2021 Holyrood election.

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Many of her own supporters, including former communications chief Kevin Pringle, have also warned that the complexities of Brexit have shown even 18 months would not be enough.

Acting Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw said: "The truth of it is that Brexit has always been a convenient excuse the SNP have used to campaign for a second referendum.

“It’s why Nicola sturgeon was on her feet within 24 hours of the 2016 Brexit vote demanding Indyref2.

“These remarks again demonstrate that the SNP puts independence first, last and always.

“While the health service is in disarray, education standards are falling and roads are disintegrating, the SNP chooses to focus on independence."

Paul Masterton, the Scottish Tory candidate for East Renfrewshire, added: “For three years, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the Brexit vote as a justification for a second independence referendum. Now she’s confirmed that even if we were to remain in the EU, she’d demand another referendum next year anyway. Outside the EU or inside – it doesn’t matter; all that matters to Nicola Sturgeon is taking Scotland out of the UK.”

Earlier, Ms Sturgeon campaigned with Stewart Hosie, the defending SNP candidate in Dundee East in the general election, and gave a speech to party activists. 

She said Brexit was a direct economic threat to Scotland’s public sector and its workforce, and accused the Tories of posing a threat to devolution.

She said: “It is now crystal clear that continued Westminster control means multiple threats to Scotland -  to our economy and our living standards, and to our NHS and other public services. First of all there is the direct economic threat of Brexit.

“Leaving the European Union will mean lower economic growth and therefore lower tax revenue to fund public services.

“The second threat is to the workforce. The end of freedom of movement will make it harder to attract NHS and social care staff. And it will mean fewer people working in Scotland and therefore contributing tax revenue to public services.

“The third threat comes from the Tory power grab on the Scottish Parliament in their pursuit of their Brexit vision.

“They’ve already used Brexit to grab powers from the Scottish Parliament. With the right-wing of the Tory party in full cry, can anyone have any confidence there won’t be a further power-grab attempt on Scotland’s Parliament as, UK wide, they compromise on workers’ rights and environmental standards.

“After all, the Tories are desperate to do a trade deal with Donald Trump.

“That could mean large rises in the cost of NHS drugs. And President Trump has said everything, including the NHS, is on the table.”

She added added: “Scotland’s future should not be dependent on the whims of Westminster.

“A vote for the SNP is a vote to deprive Boris Johnson of the majority that would enable him to do all of this.

“But, more fundamentally, a vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit and the threats it poses to our economy and public services.

“It is a vote to secure the right to choose our own future. So at this election Scotland is facing a crucial question – who should decide our future: the people who live here or the likes of Boris Johnson?”