Recent polling shows Scots favour independence over the union.

Nicola Sturgeon has vowed to publish draft legislation for a second independence referendum ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections next May.

The Scottish First Minister announced the plans in the annual Programme for Government, which sets out the Holyrood executive’s plans for the coming year. Sturgeon said:

“We believe the pandemic and the response to it has demonstrated the need for more co‑operation between independent nations, not less, and we will continue to advocate for Scotland’s place in Europe, and the world. We will take action where we can to mitigate the very worst effects of EU exit, and to protect the powers of our Scottish Parliament.

“Fundamentally, the Scottish Government view is that the best future for Scotland is to be an independent country and a member of the European Union.”

The renewed push to get a fresh independence referendum back on the Scottish political agenda comes as recent polling consistently shows Scots favouring independence over the union.

The new leader of the Scottish Conservatives criticised the plans in a tweet, saying: “We need to take Scotland forward and recover from this crisis together, not go back to the divisions of the past.”

Ian Murray MP, Labour’s Shadow Scotand Secretary, said Sturgeon’s plans are “reckless”, adding: “Reopening the constitutional debate will do nothing to help our NHS recover from the pandemic, or help the children who have lost months of education, or help grow our economy”.