Nicola Sturgeon had her hands full at the SNP conference today as she met 13-week old twins at the party gathering in Glasgow.
The SNP leader took time out from the main conference hall to pose with Catherine and Sam Shepherd, from Kirkintilloch.
As the three day conference continued today, Ms Sturgeon used media appearance to turn her fire on Scottish Conservatives over Brexit, insisting they held the ‘balance of power’ on whether leaving the EU meant quitting the single market.
She said calls for a second EU referendum on the terms of the final deal could become ‘irresistible’ as the details emerge over the next year.
The First Minister’s intervention came as the official conference agenda swerved the question of Scottish independence – despite many speakers raising the issue.
Ms Sturgeon was forced to back down from her planned timetable of a second referendum over Brexit after losing 21 seats at the general election.
But with the SNP leader’s main speech scheduled tomorrow, the party faithful are desperate to hear when the nationalists will again push for a re-run of the 2014 poll.
Nicola Sturgeon (pictured with Catherine and Sam Shepherd at conference today) has claimed Ruth Davidson’s Scottish Tories could block a hard Brexit
Nicola Sturgeon (pictured today with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood at SNP conference) today claimed a second Brexit referendum on the terms of the deal could become inevitable
The First Minister’s intervention came as the official conference agenda swerved the question of Scottish independence – despite many speakers raising the issue
As SNP conference continued today, the party’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said independence remained the only way to escape ‘right wing Tory policies’.
Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood turned out in Glasgow to address delegates on the vital importance of delegates ‘teaming up’ to tackle the Tories.
Finance Secretary Derek Mackay announced a review of whether land taxes could be introduced in Scotland and called for cross party work on income taxes
The SNP leader used interviews this morning to attack the Government over Brexit.
She told the Radio 4 Today programme Mrs May was risking a ‘disastrous’ no-deal Brexit.
Ms Sturgeon (pictured today at conference in Glasgow) said the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs held the ‘balance of power’ on Brexit
Ms Sturgeon said: ‘I have said – I’m just trying to be frank here – given that people when they voted in the EU referendum… didn’t have a clear idea what they were voting for.
‘Fifteen months on we still have no clarity on what the outcome is going to be.
‘I think the case for a referendum, not on the principle of EU membership, but on the terms of the deal may actually become quite difficult to resist.’
She added: ‘Part of the reason I’m not there is because we don’t know what the outcome is going to be yet.
‘But if we end up in a position where the UK crashes out of the EU with no deal at all, the consequences of that are so dire that I think the argument at that stage maybe irresistible that people should have the right to look at the outcome.’
The First Minister said she believed it was still possible for a soft exit from the EU and claimed the ‘arithmetic’ in the House of Commons bolstered her case.
She said: ‘We should not give up on a more sensible outcome to this process.’
Activists at the SNP conference in Glasgow mocked Donald Trump in a protest over the prospect of cut price ‘chlorinated chickens’ to Scotland (pictured)
The SNP leader, speaking from her party conference in Glasgow, accused the Government of fumbling the negotiations and risking a ‘disastrous’ no deal crash out
The SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said independence remained the only way to escape ‘right wing Tory policies’
Ms Sturgeon said there was a Commons majority for staying inside the single market if the 13 Scottish Conservative MPs joined forces with Labour and the SNP.
STURGEON: I BACK STRACHAN TO STAY LONGER THAN MAY
Nicola Sturgeon today backed Scotland manager Gordon Strachan to outlast Theresa May.
Strachan is facing questions over his future after Scotland crashed out of World Cup qualification last night.
But Ms Sturgeon said she would still back the football chief to survive longer than the PM.
She told BBC Breakfast: ‘I’m a big fan of Gordon Strachan.
‘Being Scotland manager is a tough job with perhaps even more responsibility on their shoulders than a First Minister or Prime Minister, such is the importance of football to the nation
‘Last night’s result was really disappointing but people will continue to love their football and Gordon’s future is for him to decide.
‘Probably if I had to make a decision I would back Gordon Strachan over Theresa May.’
She said: ‘The Scottish Tories could hold the balance of power on this. And if they end up voting with the government to take Scotland out of the single market, I think they are going to have some very tough questions to answer.
‘So far since the general election the Scottish Tories have not shown any influence of power at all.
‘What I’m saying is, if they had the gumption, they could exercise, if they voted with the SNP and if Labour got its act together, there could be a majority in the House of Commons to stop a hard Brexit.’
Independence is almost totally absent from the SNP agenda in Glasgow this week.
But Ms Sturgeon insisted the party had not resiled from its commitment to independence despite her demand for a re-run over Brexit being halted.
The SNP leader said would not press for a new timetable until next year but refused to rule out a fresh contest on breaking up the Union.
‘People aren’t quite ready to set the date for making another big decision,’ she told BBC Breakfast.
‘Later next year hopefully we will see some of that clarity emerge.’
The SNP leader insisted ‘Scotland will become independent’ in future.
Ms Sturgeon admitted: ‘We didn’t win the referendum three years ago, we now have to build that case.’
Scottish Finance Secretary Derek Mackay (pictured today making his main conference address) will blame spending plans in Westminster for tight finances in Edinburgh in his main address to conference later
Mr Mackay announced a formal review of whether a land tax would work for Scotland and called on all parties to contribute to changes to income tax
Westminster leader Mr Blackford told the conference his team of 35 MPs were proving the real opposition to the Tories in Westminster.
BACK PAY FOR TRIAL SHIFTS, MAY TOLD
Theresa May was challenged to back draft SNP laws to make sure trial shifts are paid today.
Ian Blackford,the SNP Westminster leader, called on the Government to ‘walk the walk’ on helping poor workers.
Stewart McDonald, the Glasgow South MP, has tabled a private members’ bill that
would outlaw companies bringing workers in for a ‘trial shift’ without paying them.
The draft law will only be debated on a handful of Friday sittings in the Commons and has no chance of reaching the statute book without Government help.
Mr Blackford called for bipartisan support for the Bill in his main speech to the SNP conference today.
He said: ‘It is the SNP who are putting forward the progressive alternative in Westminster, such as our bill to end exploitative trial shifts.
‘It is a scandal that disproportionately effects our young people just starting out and those looking to get back into work from unemployment or having a child.
‘No one should be deprived pay for a fair day’s work- Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn must support this bill. They may be keen to talk the talk on workers’ rights – now they must walk the walk.’
He claimed: ‘SNP MPs will always stand up for scotland – for our NHS, our universities, our food and drink sector, and the many other industries and communities that stand to lose out if the Tory Brexiteers get their way.
‘Of course, as the damage of Brexit becomes clearer, and as right-wing Tory policies continue to make families across Scotland worse off – we know that independence remains the only way to truly shape our own future.
‘But for as long as we remain tied to Westminster, you can be sure that our SNP MPs will continue to provide the strong voice that Scotland needs.’
In his speech later, Mr Mackay will say that while the Tories can find cash for their ‘grubby deal’ with Northern Ireland’s Democratic Unionist Party (DUP), their austerity agenda is putting public spending north of the border under pressure.
The Scottish Government’s budget has been cut by 9.2% in real terms over the last 10 years, Mr Mackay will argue, while at the same time ministers in Edinburgh must spend increasing amounts mitigating ‘cruel’ Conservative policies, such as the so-called ‘bedroom tax’.
In addition the SNP insists the ‘completely unjustifiable’ decision by the UK Government on VAT payments by Police Scotland costs the country tens of millions of pounds.
Mr Mackay will say that over the 10 years the SNP has been in power at Holyrood, the party has ‘used the powers of the parliament to chart a different, more progressive course’.
SNP demand Catalonia gets the chance for a real referendum on independence as party chiefs condemn violence by Spanish police
SNP activists today waved Catalan flags as the nationalist party endorsed calls for a legal independence referendum in the Spanish province.
In an emergency debate at the SNP conference in Glasgow, activists universally backed a policy motion calling for a legitimate poll.
An unofficial referendum in Catalonia descended into violence last week as the Spanish Government tried to stop the poll going ahead.
SNP activists today waved Catalan flags (pictured) as the nationalist party endorsed calls for a legal independence referendum in the Spanish province
Frontbench MP Joanne Cherry spoke up in favour of the motion, telling activists: ‘What I saw was repression on a scale I never expected to see in a Western, European democracies.
‘As a matter of international law the disproportionate use of force is not lawful What happened on the streets of Catalonia was not lawful.
‘Let’s support this motion and call for international mediation to solve this
‘Recognition of the people’s right to choose democratically and lawfully, their future.’
Brexiteers are like ‘Lord Snooty’ and want workers to pay for their post-EU dream, SNP conference told
Boris Johnson was branded ‘Lord Snooty’ on the SNP conference fringe today as Brexiteers were accused of wanting low paid workers to pay for their post-EU dream.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady told a fringe meeting opponents of Brexit must speak up against the Tory plans
The concern was echoed by a senior member of Nicola Sturgeon’s government claimed today. Speaking on the fringes of the SNP conference in Glasgow, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop said the Tories wanted to use Brexit to trigger a ‘free for all’.
The SNP conference has been dominated by debate over Brexit as SNP chiefs try to squeeze independence out of the agenda.
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady warned Tory leadership contenders wanted workers to ‘pay the price for Brexit’
TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady told the Prospect Magazine fringe meeting: ‘Currently the agenda is being pushed by those who have the vision that is about de-regulation, tax and workers’ rights.
Speaking on the fringes of the SNP conference in Glasgow, Culture Secretary Fiona Hyslop (file image) said the Tories wanted to use Brexit to trigger a ‘free for all’
‘In a sense we need to be a bit sharper about saying this. There is no
doubt in my mind that what those Conservatives who are currently jockeying for the leadership are all about is about workers paying the price for Brexit.
‘I think we need to start shouting that a bit louder. There are parts where it is tragedy and parts where it is comedy.
‘Did anyone else read Beano as a kid? I was thinking about Boris Johnson, Michael Gove and Liam Fox and thinking this was Lord Snooty and the terrible twins Stitch and Snatch.’
Speaking at the UK in a Changing Europe fringe meeting, Ms Hyslop said: ‘Of course I am worried, I won’t trust the Tories.
‘We’ve seen what they have done in relation to trade union rights and working conditions.
‘Many of them want a free for all to get more profit – that’s why they are Brexiteers in the first place.’