SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has declared she is “more confident than ever” Scotland will be independent, in a rallying address at the party’s annual conference in Glasgow.
The first minister said the two years since Britain voted to leave the European Union “shows why Scotland needs to be independent”.
She launched an angry offensive on the UK Conservative minority government, accusing it of “shambolic, chaotic and utterly incompetent” negotiations with Brussels.
Ms Sturgeon also channelled wartime leader Winston Churchill, who famously said: “Never was so much owed by so many to so few.”
Attacking Prime Minister Theresa May’s record, she said: “When the history books tell the story of this Tory government, selfishly driving the UK towards a hard Brexit just to appease its own ideologues, the verdict will be damning.
“Never has so much been lost by so many to satisfy so few.”
Downing Street has insisted progress is being made in negotiations, with EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker voicing hopes of a breakthrough by November.
But Mrs Sturgeon lashed out at the “contempt” she claimed Scotland had been shown by Westminster, which she said proved the UK was not a union of equals.
“Brexit is a serious problem for Scotland,” she warned, adding: “The only solution to that is to become an independent country.”
She said that goal was “clearly in sight” and called on delegates to “just think how much more we could do, free of the chaos and incompetence of Westminster”.
Earlier, Downing Street hit back at the calls for a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Mrs May’s spokesperson said: “Scotland had a referendum four years ago and voted decisively, this should be respected.
“Now is not time for an independence referendum – it’s time for the UK to be pulling together.”
The spokesperson also denied that a “no deal” divorce would threaten the UK union, saying Mrs May had been “clear throughout about her determination to preserve the union and that is part of the proposals we have brought forward”.
(c) Sky News 2018: Nicola Sturgeon ‘more confident than ever’ of independence