NICOLA Sturgeon will make a “detailed and substantive” speech today when she updates Holyrood on her plans for a possible second independence referendum.

The First Minister is due to address MSPs in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon when she will set out her thinking in a long anticipated 30-minute statement.

Ahead of the key intervention, the FM’s spokesman said the speech would deliver her “thoughts on independence and how that relates to where the country currently finds itself”.

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He added: “The First Minister will give a detailed and substantive statement setting out the path forward for Scotland amid the ongoing Brexit confusion at Westminster.

“The First Minister will take time to set out her thoughts on that front and in doing so she will seek to strike an inclusive tone.”

The Scottish Parliament Bureau, which determines day-to-day business at Holyrood, confirmed it has approved the FM’s request to address MSPs this afternoon, followed by an hour of questions.

The National: The First Minister will make a speech in HolyroodThe First Minister will make a speech in Holyrood

With the statement coming just days before the SNP’s party conference in Edinburgh, her spokesman said she had opted to make the statement “at the first available opportunity” since the EU granted a six-month extension to the Article 50 process.

After a Cabinet briefing yesterday morning, ministers were said to be “happy” with details of Sturgeon’s plans to address Parliament, with her spokesman adding: “There was positive feedback from Cabinet colleagues.”

She is not thought to have notified Theresa May or Downing Street of her planned statement.

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May rejected a request made by the First Minister in March 2017 for a Section 30 order – which would transfer powers to Holyrood to hold a legally-binding independence referendum.

Asked yesterday what the Prime Minister’s response would be to calls for a Section 30 order to pave the way for a second independence vote, the FM’s spokesman said: “You know the Prime Minister’s position on that and it has not changed. First and foremost, let’s wait and see what the First Minister says.”

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Ahead of the FM’s statement on Brexit and Scotland’s future, the Scottish Greens’ co-convener Patrick Harvie (pictured below) called on the FM to use a mandate for a second vote during the existing Holyrood term which ends in May 2021.

“The day after the Brexit vote the First Minister sounded like she was firing the starting gun on a referendum campaign but nearly three years on the race hasn’t started, despite Scotland having been subjected to utter contempt from Westminster all that time,” he said.

The National:

“There is a mandate to hold a second independence referendum within the current session of the Parliament and it would be hugely disappointing, as well as a dangerous precedent, to let that expire in the face of Tory obstructionism.

“Scotland needs an escape route from a Brexit it didn’t vote for and the Scottish Greens stand ready to campaign hard for an independent Scotland in the EU.”

But the pro-Union parties said the FM should not press ahead with a new vote.

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Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted to be judged on education, yet here we see her passing up the opportunity to talk about that very subject,” said the Scottish Tory’s Jackson Carlaw. “Instead, she’s returning to her real priority, her plan for a divisive second referendum on independence.”

Scottish Labour’s Richard Leonard added: “Nicola Sturgeon can produce no evidence the people of Scotland want another independence referendum.”

He added: “The mess of Brexit throws into sharp relief the challenges of leaving a political and economic Union. The answer to challenges of the UK leaving the EU is not and never will be Scotland leaving the UK.”