The UK government should be “clamouring” for another vote on Scottish independence if it is confident of winning, Nicola Sturgeon has said.
Speaking on the BBC’s Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg, the first minister said her government has plans “ready to go” if the Supreme Court rules staging another independence referendum is in the powers of Holyrood.
The court will hear arguments this week after a referral from the lord advocate on a prospective bill legislating for a referendum.
Speaking as the SNP conference continued in Aberdeen, Ms Sturgeon hit out at the UK government’s continuing opposition to granting another vote.
“I believe very firmly – and I think this is a bit of an iron law of politics – if the other side of this debate really believed people in Scotland didn’t want a referendum and if they really believed that people in Scotland would vote against independence, they’d be the ones clamouring for a referendum,” the First Minister said.
When asked if it is possible the UK government wants to avoid the “disruption” that would stem from a referendum, the first minister said: “Disruption? Perish the thought we would have disruption in people’s lives right now."
“The disruption that people are suffering right now are coming from decisions that have been imposed on Scotland against our will.”
Ms Sturgeon pointed to Brexit and the UK government’s mini-budget as decisions imposed on Scotland.
She also says she believes a boycott of a second referendum would not happen.
Want a quick and expert briefing on the biggest news stories? Listen to our latest podcasts to find out What You Need To Know...
“If the Supreme Court paves the way for a lawful referendum next year, I think the vast majority of the people of Scotland would take part in that,” she said.
“The UK government might decide to say they don’t want them to take part in that, but I don’t think that is going to prevail.
Scottish Tory constitution spokesperson Donald Cameron said the first minister was “deluding herself” and the public in saying there is an “appetite” for a referendum.
“Nicola Sturgeon is deluding herself – and seeking to delude the Scottish people – when she says there is an appetite for another divisive referendum on her timescale."
“The polling evidence is clear and consistent – the majority of Scots, including many SNP voters, are resolutely opposed to the first minister’s self-serving push for a vote next year.”
Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told BBC Scotland’s Sunday Show his party, and its UK counterpart, were a better alternative than the Tories.
He said: “Nicola Sturgeon wants to pretend there’s almost no difference between a Labour government and a Conservative government.
“They focused their attacks on the Labour Party – almost like they preferred a Tory government – surely not?”
However, speaking to the BBC during the SNP conference in Aberdeen on Sunday, the Scottish First Minister said she would prefer a Labour government in Westminster to the Conservatives – adding: “I detest the Tories.”
She said on the Sunday with Laura Kuenssberg programme: “If the question to me is would I prefer a Labour government over a Tory government – I detest the Tories and everything they stand for – so it’s not difficult to answer that question.”
Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster Nadhim Zahawi said the first minister's language was "really dangerous".
While Ms Sturgeon said she would favour a Labour government, she added: “Being better than the Tories is not a high bar to cross right now.
“I think we need to see more of a radical alternative from Labour rather than just a pale imitation."
“If you’re asking me do I think either a Westminster Tory government or a Westminster Labour government are good enough for Scotland, then my answer to that is no.”