THE case for Scottish independence “has only got stronger through the experience of Brexit”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

The First Minister’s speech at Georgetown University focused on Scotland’s place and ambition on the world stage and the strong connections between Scotland and the United States.

Sturgeon said: “Washington and Georgetown – like so many places across the United States I guess – hold reminders of the strong and very long-standing ties between Scotland and the USA.”

Her speech then turned to the threat of Brexit and opportunity of Scottish independence.

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“I, as First Minister, have said I will outline my thoughts on the timing of another independence referendum in the next few weeks – once the terms of Brexit have become clearer,” she said.

“Scotland’s national interests are not being served by a Westminster system which too often treats Scotland as an afterthought, or too often sees our interests as not being material.”

She continued: “In my view, they can only properly be served by becoming an independent country.

The National:

“But an independent country that then seeks to play its part in an interconnected world. And that is a vision that I think more and more people in Scotland, in the wake of the Brexit experience, find very attractive.”

During the Q&A session of her speech, the First Minister said that Scotland’s interests had been “undermined, downgraded, sidelined and completely cast aside” since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016.

READ: First Minister's full US speech on independence and Brexit

Speaking at Georgetown’s Institute for Women, Peace and Security as part of Women World Leaders Week, Sturgeon added that leaving the EU without a deal would be “catastrophic”.

Asked about the timing of a second independence referendum, the First Minister said: “In the not too distant future I think there will be another independence referendum. The timing of that has to wait, I think, for a bit longer just to see how this Brexit process plays out.

“But in my view, the case for independence, for Scotland being an independent member of the EU and the world community, has only got stronger through the experience of Brexit in the last couple of years.”

Sturgeon is currently on a five-day trip to the US and Canada, during which she plans to build stronger trade links between Scotland and North America. As well as Washington DC, the First Minister will visit New York, New Jersey, Ottawa and Toronto.

Asked if it was just a matter of timing or whether certain Brexit scenarios would change the strategy, Sturgeon added: “I want another independence referendum, so the question at the moment is when the time of that would be best for that.

“Obviously the issues around the UK and the EU have implications for the independence debate, they don’t necessarily change people’s views on whether Scotland should be an independent country or not, but it stands to reason that Scotland’s relationship with the rest of the UK is always going to be an important one, regardless of whether we are independent or not. And the rest of the UK’s relationship with the EU has a bearing on that.

“So these are issues that are pretty interwoven, but the fundamental democratic premise of the independence case has got stronger, as we’ve seen over the period since the EU vote our interests being undermined, downgraded and sidelined and completely cast aside.”

Responding to the First Minister’s speech, Scottish LibDem leader Willie Rennie said: “Whether the First Minister is in Washington or Wishaw, she keeps bashing the independence drum.

“Even on an international stage she’s inward looking. Only Scottish Liberal Democrats are consistent in our support for Scotland at the heart of the UK and the UK at the heart of Europe.”