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Scottish independence question dominates SNP conference

THE question of Scotland’s independence dominated the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference in Aberdeen this week, with the party also pledging to scrap social care charges and invest in climate action.

Addressing delegates, First Minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said a second independence referendum “must happen next year” and confirmed she would ask the Westminster government for approval before the end of 2019.

“The question should be demanded of the Westminster parties — what gives you any right to deny people in Scotland our ability to choose our own future?” she said.

Elsewhere in Ms Sturgeon’s speech, she pledged to scrap charges for non-residential social care and promised free holiday childcare for Scotland’s poorest primary pupils if re-elected.

Also announced was a £27 million fund for walking and cycling schemes across the country.

Social Security Secretary Shirley-Anne Somerville used her address to pledge a £500,000 “benefit take-up fund” for organisations that help people access benefits.

Meanwhile, Climate Secretary Roseanna Cunningham announced a Scotland branch of the Committee on Climate Change and a network of “climate action towns” supported by £1m funding.

Ms Sturgeon’s comments on independence were criticised by Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard, who accused her of creating “more division and uncertainty.”

The Scottish Greens also attacked the SNP over its climate record and sponsorship of the conference by BP and Heathrow airport, with co-leader Lorna Slater stating: “The SNP’s world-leading hypocrisy on the climate crisis has never been clearer.”

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