NICOLA Sturgeon has said she has an “undeniable” mandate for a second Scottish independence referendum after the Scottish Government struck a “ground-breaking” power-sharing deal with the Greens.

The co-operation agreement, which has now been endorsed by both parties, will see Greens form part of the government for the first time anywhere in the UK.

The Scottish Parliament earlier this afternoon approved a motion by the First Minister to appoint Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater as junior ministers.

Earlier today, Sturgeon told Holyrood that the co-operation agreement was brought about by the need to “try to do politics differently” such as tackling big issues such as climate change, Covid-19 recovery and the impacts of Brexit

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However, Sturgeon also pointed out that a “key strand” of the co-operation deal is to deliver on a second independence referendum. 

This would fulfil the “democratic mandate to let the Scottish people choose our own future”, Sturgeon told the Chamber. 

She said: “This agreement does confirm our intention to give people in Scotland the choice of independence. 

“The mandate for that is undeniable - between us, the SNP and the Greens hold 72 of the 129 seats in this Parliament and each one of us was elected on a clear commitment to an independence referendum.

The National:

The First Minister was speaking on the first day Holyrood was recalled from summer recess

“But just as the mandate is undeniable, the reason for a referendum is just as important.

"As we emerge from this pandemic, the kind of country and society that Scotland is now and becomes in future, and the decisions that will shape our society and economy and our place in the world, must be determined democratically here in Scotland and not imposed upon us so often against our will by government at Westminster

“Presiding Officer, the agreement we have reached offers a clear vision of the sort of country Scotland can become - a greener, fairer, and yes independent nation.” 

The First Minister clarified that the agreement was not a coalition and that the SNP and Scottish Greens will “retain distinct voices and independent identities”.

However, one important issue they agree on is independence, and the impact of Westminster rule on Scotland.

Sturgeon added: “We must unfortunately address and mitigate the consequences of Brexit, which are becoming more serious by the week as labour scarcity and interrupted supply chains lead to shortages on supermarket shelves and elsewhere. 

“Shortages that should be unthinkable in a country like the UK and which are, make no mistake, a direct and shameful result of the Brexit disaster.

“We must defend our parliament against UK Government power grabs that are undermining the very principles on which it is founded. 

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“And as we do so recognise that the best way not just of protecting this parliament from Westminster but also equipping it with the full powers it needs to build a fairer more prosperous country is to make this parliament independent of Westminster.”

Some booing erupted from the Tory benches at this, before being quickly drowned out by applause.

Sturgeon continued: “That is why fulfilling our democratic mandate to let the Scottish people choose our own future is a key strand of this agreement.”

The National:

Harvie and Slater joined the First Minister on the front benches at Holyrood today

The First Minister hailed the agreement as “genuinely ground-breaking” and an “important landmark” in the history of the Scottish Parliament. 

She added: “For the first time in UK politics, it will see Greens enter national government as ministers, working in a spirit of common endeavour, mutual challenge and collective responsibility to deliver for the people we serve.”

Douglas Ross called the deal a "nationalist coalition with one overriding goal - separating Scotland from the United Kingdom". 

He said: “This is not a deal that works for Scotland. This is a deal that works for Nicola Sturgeon.

“She failed to get a majority and this deal is a consequence of that.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “This is no new government, this is not a clean start, this is a deal that more about the constitution, not the climate.

“It’s about greater control for Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP, not co-operation.”

He argued ministers should instead be focused on tackling issues such as unemployment, child poverty, the drugs deaths crisis and tackling the backlog that has built up within the NHS.