John Swinney has said that Scotland can be independent before the end of the decade.

The comments from the First Minister came ahead of the first meeting of his cabinet in Bute House. 

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Asked by Sky News whether independence can happen in five years, the new SNP leader said: “I think independence can be delivered in that timescale because the arguments for it are compelling.

“If we look at two of the biggest issues we face as a country in Scotland: the effect of the cost of living and the implications of Brexit.

“Both of those major strategic factors that are doing severe economic and social damage to Scotland are because of bad decisions taken in Westminster, and independence is the answer to that.”

However, he acknowledged support for independence is not yet “compelling”.

He added: “We have got work to do to build greater support for independence, to make that support level compelling within Scotland, and that’s what my leadership will be about.”

One of Mr Swinney's first acts as First Minister was to axe the role of minister for independence, sparking a backlash from some Yes supporters. 

The post, held by Jamie Hepburn, was created by Humza Yousaf, a year ago.

Earlier this week, he told the pro-independence paper, The National that he was committed to the constitutional strategy adopted by the SNP at their conference last year.

That states that if the SNP win a majority of seats in Scotland that would be a mandate for the SNP to start negotiations with the UK Government.

However, a new poll from Savanta, published on Friday, gave Labour the lead over the SNP in both Holyrood and Westminster elections.

The survey for The Scotsman predicted Keir Starmer’s party would win 37% of the vote compared to the SNP’s 33% at the next general election.

And while the parties were tied on Holyrood constituency voting intention on 35% each, Labour were ahead of the SNP on the regional list vote.

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Scottish Conservative chairman Craig Hoy said: “John Swinney has made it crystal clear that he and his Government will not just continue, but accelerate, their relentless and divisive push for independence.


“The latest SNP leader is just another nationalist obsessed with plotting to break up the United Kingdom.

“The real priorities of Scots will continue to be ignored because vital time and resources are being wasted on the SNP’s push for independence.”

Pamela Nash, chief executive of pro-UK campaign group Scotland in Union, said: “John Swinney is yet another SNP leader who is woefully out of touch with the Scottish people.

“The people of Scotland are absolutely scunnered by the SNP banging on about the constitution when our NHS is on its knees, child poverty levels are a national scandal, we have the highest drug deaths in Europe, the education attainment gap has not been closed, and climate change targets have been abandoned.

“Rather than this tired old negative campaign to divide us, the Scottish Government should be focused on the people’s priorities, not the SNP’s.”