Nicola Sturgeon: Scottish independence will have a "triple lock" - the people will decide, politicians won't dictate

Sturgeon reiterates backing for full fiscal autonomy at earliest possible opportunity

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has put a "triple lock" on Scotland becoming an independent country and insisted that calling any future vote on Scottish independence will be a matter for the people of Scotland to decide, not politicians.

Sturgeon made the comments after fierce criticism from a number of unionist party leaders during the BBC's televised Scottish election debate on Wednesday night.

While unionists claimed any referendum after the 2016 Holyrood elections would be a "betrayal", Sturgeon retorted that a future ballot would be a matter for voters to decide on, not politicians to dictate.

In addition, Sturgeon outlined three hurdles that would have to be cleared before any declaration of independence:

1) Circumstances would have to "materially" change, such as Scotland's being pulled out the EU against the vote in Scotland

2) A referendum would also have to be in an SNP manifesto

3) Independence would require a majority vote in a legally binding referendum

"Politicians don't dictate this, the people are in charge. That's the basis of democracy," Sturgeon said.

The first minister also repeated her argument that independence was not the party's General Election priority, and instead the party is focused on "a strong voice for Scotland and keeping Labour honest".

Ruth Davidson, Scottish Tory leader, said that her party would not block another referendum if it came to it, but added: "However, we would feel a betrayal very deeply when we were promised time after time by Nicola, by John Swinney, by all her MSPs, MPs, MEPs and councillors that this was 'once in a generation' and we were told by the end of the campaign it was 'once in a lifetime'."

Jim Murphy, Scottish Labour leader, ridiculed Sturgeon's "triple lock" position, stating: "You don't get a mandate from an opinion poll, you get a mandate from a manifesto and you have gone from being a proud co-leader of the big Yes campaign to being the head of the 'maybes ayes, maybes naws' campaign."

In the 18 September referendum, 45 per cent of people in Scotland voted in favour of independence with 55 per cent against. A string of polls since the election have broadly suggested support for another referendum at some point in the future.

Sturgeon also confirmed that the party would vote for full fiscal autonomy at Westminster as soon as it had the opportunity, stating: "I don't think it is any secret that I want Scotland to have as many powers over our own economy and our own fiscal levers as soon as possible."

Picture courtesy of First Minister of Scotland