ANGUS Robertson has been stopped from making a statement to Holyrood on a fresh independence drive after being reprimanded by the Presiding Officer.

Alison Johnstone told the chamber it was unacceptable and a discourtesy that the Scottish Government had given details of the statement to the media first.

This went against long-standing guidance intended to respect the parliament.

She said the Parliament’s time was best used moving straight to questions, without Mr Robertson, the SNP Constitution Secretary, being allowed to make a speech first.

She said: “Yesterday afternoon, significant news that should have been announced in this Chamber as a matter of courtesy and respect to the Parliament was reported by national media, trailing a media event this morning.

“It is not possible to square the Government’s actions on this matter, with respect for this guidance which is designed to ensure that this Parliament is given its proper place.

“It is my role to represent this Parliament’s interests and in doing so I take account of all members’ interests equally.

“The Government is in no doubt that I do not regard this as acceptable and in these circumstances the Parliament’s time is used best by moving straight to questions.”

The row followed Nicola Sturgeon and Green co-leader Patrick Harvie publishing the first part of a new prospectus for independence at Bute House this morning.

It compared the UK’s economic performance with that of 10 small European and Nordic nations to argue that Scotland would be better off outside the Union.

Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross said the exercise was a waste of time and money.

Scottish Labour MSP Sarah Boyack also criticised the report and said the disruption caused by independence would make Brexit look “like a walk in the park”.

Mr Robertson said independence was about “recovery” from Brexit, from Tory rule, from Boris Johnson and a fundamental “question of democracy”.

Mr Ross said Mr Sturgeon should “give it a rest” and focus on real priorities. 

He said: “Pushing for another divisive referendum  - possibly even an illegal wildcat referendum - is the wrong priority - at the worst possible time.

“The people of Scotland want the focus to be on the huge challenges facing us.

 “We want the focus to be on creating better jobs and opportunities. We want the focus of the government to be on improving public services.

“Instead, this government offers Scottish people more distraction, disruption and division.

“In the middle of a global cost-of-living crisis, it’s a disgrace that the SNP are diverting resources and public money away from our frontline services.”

At her launch of the paper this morning, the First Minister repeatedly asked the question “Why not Scotland?” in relation to becoming a successful independent country.

Mr Ross said: “Nicola Sturgeon pushes her obsession by asking: ‘Why not Scotland?’ Let me ask her a better question: Why not improve Scotland now?

 “Why not create better Scottish jobs now? Why not tackle Scotland’s record levels of drug deaths now? Why not restore Scottish schools now? Why not build a ferry - even just one ferry - in Scotland now?

“This government is obsessed with independence, when it should be obsessed with delivering for Scotland now.

“Nicola Sturgeon should give it a rest - and focus on the people of Scotland's priorities now.”