THERE were two recurring themes in Nicola Sturgeon’s eagerly anticipated statement to Holyrood yesterday. The first, as you would expect, was the benefits of Scotland becoming an independent country. The First Minister linked this to the ongoing Brexit process stating: “Brexit has exposed a deep democratic deficit … the case is even stronger now given the profound changes that have taken place in the UK since 2014.”

She repeatedly used a phrase that I expect we will be hearing a lot more of from SNP politicians in the months ahead – “normal independent country”. Normalising the idea of independence is a step towards persuasion.

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By pointing out that other countries of smaller or similar size to Scotland are currently equal partners at the EU’s top table, making decisions that will affect the UK, Sturgeon is at pains to stress that the idea of Scotland being independent isn’t fanciful or inherently radical – it is entirely normal.

To persuade 45% of voters that independence is a safe, progressive and sensible future for Scotland was no mean feat, and the hope and belief is that with indyref2 now firmly on the agenda, a majority of the electorate can be convinced.

The difficulties around how to obtain a Section 30 order from a harried, intransigent UK Government has proven to be a stumbling block for the Scottish Government.

Theresa May has shown herself to be unwilling to compromise over Brexit and tin-eared to the electoral and political conventions that usually guide a Prime Minister.

She is unperturbed by her diminishing authority, contempt of parliament votes or losing key votes on the only piece of legislation on her domestic agenda. There’s no reason to believe that if Nicola Sturgeon requested a Section 30 order now, as the sharks are circling around Theresa May, that the Tory leader would be open to agreement.

That is why Nicola Sturgeon’s proposal to bring forward the necessary bill to set out the framework for indyref2 before requesting a Section 30 order was canny.

It removes the infuriating back-and-forth exchanges of letters and “now is not the time” dogma and delay. It neutralises the UK Government’s strongest hand (in the short-term, at least) while Holyrood paves the way; and the path towards not only holding indyref2, but independence itself, becomes even more normalised.

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Through the First Minister’s offer of cross-party talks, Holyrood has an opportunity to move away from the unnecessary political point-scoring over the merits or legitimacy of asking Scotland to decide its future, and instead demonstrate that it can come together to work in the best interests of the country. It’s important to recognise the political hurdles that Nicola Sturgeon had to jump as she laid out a way forward that would please all elements of her own party and the wider Yes movement.

For those who would prefer to wait and build up support for independence, there is now a clear timeframe set out.

And for those who see the chaos of Brexit and the disrespect of the UK Government and feel the time for independence is now – the First Minister has just fired the campaigning starting gun.

There are no guarantees as to what will happen in the months ahead, but one thing is clear: Scotland isn’t going to sit around and wait as the UK Government decides our future for us.