NICOLA Sturgeon has re-asserted her commitment to independence as an option in the face of the “ongoing horror show” of Tories’ “inept and chaotic” Brexit plans.

The First Minister also described the first few months of 2018 as “a window of opportunity” for all those working to protect Scotland’s place in Europe – and its membership of the single market in the event Brexit goes ahead.

She revealed the Scottish Government will publish an analysis this month of the economic impact of each of the likely post-Brexit trade options facing the UK. It will be included in a paper from the Government on Scotland’s future relationship with Europe.

Writing in a Sunday newspaper, Sturgeon criticised Labour in Scotland for professing to rail against Tory injustices while colluding in their London leadership’s “shamefully ambivalent attitude to Brexit – and after having fought tooth and nail to prevent Scotland getting the powers which would help mitigate Tory damage”.

Predicting that 2018 had the potential to be one of the most significant years in Scotland’s recent history, she said: “I believe it will be a year in which a new Scotland continues to emerge, an emboldened, more confident and assertive nation.

“That is perhaps not the most obvious conclusion to draw from the ongoing horror show of the Tories’ inept and chaotic Brexit plans, which threaten to do deep and lasting damage to our economy and society.

“But it is because of that overarching threat that I believe a new spirit of Scottish assertiveness is needed and will come to the fore.”

Sturgeon added: “The threat of Brexit, including the prospect of a declining working age population in Scotland and the inability to boost it through immigration, shows the reckless ideology of Tory Brexiteers is a growing threat to our economic wellbeing.”

Sturgeon said the Scottish Government would continue to oppose Brexit in principle while resisting “as fiercely as possible” Tory plans for a hard Brexit, outside the single market and customs union.

She went on: “Last year, I made clear we will scrutinise the detail of any final Brexit deal negotiated by the UK Government before deciding the next steps in terms of giving people a choice on Scotland’s future.

“However, I have been clear all along that the threat to Scotland’s interests means independence must remain an option.

“Being torn out of the world’s biggest single market against our democratic will – a market about eight times bigger than the UK’s alone – threatens to do untold damage to Scotland.”

Speaking on the subject of Europe again today, the SNP leader stressed the importance of making the case for staying in the single market before UK-EU talks resume in March.

“Now is therefore the time for all those determined to keep Scotland and the UK in the single market – the world’s richest marketplace, of 500 million people – to speak up and work together. These next few months are a window of opportunity.

“The Scottish Government will shortly set out the realistic options facing the UK outside the EU – reverting to World Trade Organisation rules, a basic free trade deal or remaining within the single market and customs union.

“We will detail the impact each will have on incomes, economic growth, investment, productivity and other economic measures that will determine our prosperity.

“Over the coming months we will also set out the new opportunities for Scotland if we stay inside the developing single market and customs union, and why it is essential that we have the ability to continue to attract workers to Scotland.

“The decisions taken in the next few months will be crucial for jobs, wages and opportunities for future generations.”