NICOLA Sturgeon has defended her absence from Holyrood during COP26 as she insisted she has an important role to play in making the most of “the opportunity to showcase Scotland”.

The First Minster has taken part at a host of events at the Glasgow climate conference over the past fortnight – as well as high-profile media interviews.

Deputy First Minister John Swinney delivered the Scottish Government’s weekly Covid-19 update at Holyrood on Tuesday and stepped in for the First Minister at Thursday’s FMQs – where he faced pressure over the NHS ahead of winter as well as fears nurses could ballot for industrial action.

But Ms Sturgeon told journalists that she does not regret spending so much time in Glasgow over the last two weeks.

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She said: “First ministers don’t just do one thing at a time – they do lots of things at a time. All of these issues, I’ve been fully engaged in all week, as well as being here.

“I have no doubt, and I mean no doubt, that had I not committed to try and do everything I can to make this summit a success then the same people who are criticising me for being here would be queuing up to criticise me for that as well.

“That’s in the nature of democracy, it’s in the nature of politics but my job, you don’t get to do one thing and you don’t get to choose to do one thing over another. All of these things are things I’m engaged in every single day.”

Ms Sturgeon added that politicians of all parties have a role to make COP26 a success.

She said: “I’ve stood up there over the last few days and seen Douglas Ross, Anas Sarwar and Alex Cole-Hamilton – I watched Alex Cole-Hamilton yesterday take selfies or himself – and I’m not criticising that.

“I think all of us as Scottish politicians have an obligation to do what we can to support the success of this summit.

“As First Minister, I’ve got a particular responsibility to play my part in trying to secure a successful outcome – and also the opportunity to showcase Scotland.

“It’s not everyday the world comes to Glasgow. If I hadn’t taken the opportunity to showcase Scotland, to make sure that we are playing our full part, then I’m pretty sure my political opponents would be queuing up to criticise me if I hadn’t been here as much as I have.”