THERE is "no doubt" the SNP are "winning the case for independence", Nicola Sturgeon has declared.

While the First Minister said that politically "these can seem like dark times", she added that "there is light and there is always hope".

Sturgeon told the SNP conference in Aberdeen: "Progressive values are being fought for in Europe. Young people are taking a stand for their future.

"And for Scotland, the hope lies in becoming an independent nation.

"Be in no doubt about this. We are winning the case for independence."

Sturgeon declared: "It is time to take charge of our own future. It is time for independence."

The First Minister said the government has a "cast-iron mandate for an independence referendum", adding: "That fact is beyond doubt.

"But we don't just have a right to offer the people of Scotland a choice over their future. In the circumstances now Scotland faces, we have a duty to do so.

"And it is what we intend to do."

The First Minister told the conference: "Our job is not just to deliver a referendum. Our job is to deliver independence."

She said the vote "must happen next year" and said the party was getting ready.

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Sturgeon stated: "By the new year, we will have completed our legislative preparations.

"We are already working to update the independence prospectus.

"And I can confirm today that before the end of this year, I will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a referendum beyond any doubt."

This received a standing ovation from the delegates.

The FM insisted her party would not win independence "the Brexit way", saying they would not resort to tactics such as "undermining democracy, demonising those who disagree, and plastering lies on the side of a bus".

Instead she said: "We will win by inspiring and persuading."

On the subject of Brexit, Sturgeon said "broken promises" from Labour, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in the 2014 independence referendum were the reason "Scotland faces removal from the European Union today".

She hit out: "Brexit is a disaster. Whatever happens over the next few weeks it will continue to dominate Westminster for years to come. There is no sense in which it will be 'done'.

"We don't yet know whether the UK will leave with a deal or without. But we do know that neither of these outcomes is in Scotland's interests."

While she said a No-Deal Brexit would be "unthinkable" she added that "a deal of the type Boris Johnson is proposing would not be much better".

READ MORE: FM: UK has no right to deny Scots the right to choose their future

Sturgeon went on: "His plans would take Scotland out of the EU, out of the single market and out of the customs union.

"Let me make this absolutely clear today, SNP MPs will not vote for that - not now, not ever."

Ms Sturgeon continued: "What makes Brexit so much worse for Scotland is that it is happening against our will.

"One of the sticking points in the negotiations with the EU has been the issue of consent for Northern Ireland.

"If there is to be a deal, it seems inevitable that it will include a process to allow Northern Ireland to decide if and for how long it will stay aligned to the single market and customs union. And that's exactly as it should be.

"But think about what that will mean.

"Wales will have voted to leave. England will have voted to leave. Northern Ireland will be given a say over its future.

"Scotland will be the only country in the UK to be taken out of the EU against our will and with no say over our future relationship with Europe."

While she insisted Brexit was a "disaster" she added it was a "symptom of a deeper problem".

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Sturgeon said: "That problem is the Westminster political union. For Scotland, Brexit shows that the Westminster system is broken.

"And it is broken utterly beyond repair."

Sturgeon insisted it was "not sustainable" for Westminster to continue to refuse to allow a second Scottish independence referendum.

She added that the leaders of the other parties "know there is going to be a referendum".

And she said: "They know that when there is, Scotland will choose independence."

With a General Election "imminent" Sturgeon said her party would fight that campaign with a "clear, simple and unambiguous" message.

That will be: "Vote SNP to demand independence and secure Scotland's right to choose."

The First Minister closed her speech with a quote from Robert Burns.

She told conference: "It is comin' yet for a' that."