NICOLA Sturgeon has told MSPs that a delay to Brexit won’t kibosh her big announcement on a second independence referendum.

On Wednesday the First Minister said she would update Holyrood on the timing of a new vote on Scottish independence in a matter of weeks.

The SNP leader confirmed that timescale in a response to Green co-convener Patrick Harvie during yesterday’s FMQs.

She also reassured him that the announcement would not be derailed by an extension to Article 50 and the prolonging of the UK Government’s Brexit negotiations.

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Sturgeon said: “Obviously there’s some water to go under the Brexit bridge over the next few weeks, but let me be very clear about this, I think the case for independence and support for independence grows with every day that passes.

“I think it is essential, given the catastrophe that Scotland faces to our economy, to society, our living standards, to our prospects for the next generation, to our reputation in the world, that that option of independence must be open to people in Scotland.

“And when people in Scotland have the ability to choose independence, I believe the country will opt to be an independent country.”

Earlier the session had been dominated by questions about the botched investigation into claims of sexual harassment by Alex Salmond, with both stand-in Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw and Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard pushing the First Minister for more details.

Harvie, in his question, accused his fellow opposition leaders of ignoring the real issues of the day.

Nicola Sturgeon was speaking during First Minister’s Questions. Photograph: Gordon Terris

“To listen to the opening questions from the Conservatives and Labour we’d be forgiven for thinking the country wasn’t facing the biggest political crisis for generations,” he said.

Carlaw had asked the First Minister if she now accepted it was wrong to have met with Salmond after learning of the sexual harassment complaints. He also compared Sturgeon’s response to his questions to her questioning of former Labour leader Wendy Alexander during a probe over donors in 2007.

“She can’t hide behind an inquiry and likely forthcoming police inquiry without answering the obvious questions: who knew what, when and how.

“Those aren’t my words, those are the words of Nicola Sturgeon in 2007 when as deputy first minister she was demanding answers of Wendy Alexander over donations to the Labour Party. So by Nicola Sturgeon’s own definition then, we do have both the right and the responsibility to ask questions now.”

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Sturgeon urged Carlaw to respect the process: “His challenge to me last week was to support a parliamentary inquiry and I have done that.”

Leonard pointed out that under the procedures used at the Scottish Parliament, the probe is due to be chaired by an SNP MSP.

Sturgeon said it would be inappropriate for her to change that: “There would be something deeply wrong if, having supported an inquiry into the matter, I then started to try to dictate – even if I did so in response to questions from Richard Leonard – the terms on which the inquiry was to be conducted.”