NICOLA Sturgeon will tell Westminster to hand over the keys to indyref2 and put the vote “beyond legal challenge”, Holyrood has heard.

Hitting out at the “political and constitutional emergency that is engulfing the UK”, the First Minister told the chamber she was “determined” that Scotland gets the chance to rejoin the European family of independent nations.

And, outlining 14 different pledges, she warned that Brexit means she cannot promise that her administration’s Programme for Government will not be thrown into disarray by a No-Deal withdrawal imposed against Scotland’s will.

On their first day back from summer recess, Sturgeon told MSPs that mitigating “bad Westminster decisions should not be what this parliament is about”.

And, setting out her party’s stall ahead of an anticipated early general election, she said the SNP would put opposition to Brexit at the centre of their campaign.

Pledging a raft of measures to fight climate change, she said: “Scotland did not vote for any form of Brexit and having a catastrophic No-Deal Brexit imposed on us is completely and utterly unacceptable.

“Of course, as long as this outcome remains a risk, the Scottish Government will do all we can to mitigate the impact on families, communities and businesses.”

Confirming her intention to seek a Section 30 order to pave the way for a new ballot on the constitution, the First Minister went on: “We intend to offer the people of Scotland the choice of a better and more positive future as an independent nation.

“The Referendums Bill introduced before recess is about to resume its parliamentary process. I can confirm today that during the passage of the bill we will seek agreement for the transfer of power that will put the referendum beyond legal challenge.”

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Boris Johnson has already said he sees “no reason” for a second independence vote. In July, he stated: “We did it in 2014 and the people were assured then that it was a once-in-a-generation consultation.”

And new Scottish Secretary Alister Jack, who succeeded David Mundell after Johnson’s installation, has said he will “continue to resist calls for independence with all of my being”.

Yesterday Pamela Nash, chief executive of Scotland in Union, called Sturgeon’s plan “irresponsible”, adding: “The very last thing that Scotland needs at a time of constitutional crisis is more constitutional chaos.”

The National: Scotland in Union's Pamela Nash hit out at the First MinisterScotland in Union's Pamela Nash hit out at the First Minister

Sturgeon’s Section 30 statement comes amidst continued pressure from some parts of her own party, with Angus MacNeil MP and and councillor Chris McEleny spearheading efforts for a “plan B” which would see a majority election result trigger independence negotiations – something rejected by SNP leaders.

Away from the constitution, Sturgeon’s announcement signalled continued environmental commitments, including a “transformational” programme taking in buses, housing and air travel. Under a Green New Deal, the Highlands and Islands is to become the world’s first “net zero aviation region” as the Scottish National Investment Bank ploughs cash into emerging technologies and support for the oil and gas sector will hinge on its sustainability actions.

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A consultation on drug laws – reserved to Westminster – will be held to combat drug deaths and a new body will be established to oversee NHS infrastructure projects in light of the delays to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children in Edinburgh.

The first £10-per-week payments for struggling families with children under six will be made by Christmas next year. But interim Tory leader Jackson Carlaw questioned whether the pledges “will ever be delivered” and Richard Leonard called on Sturgeon to support Labour’s policies to cap private rent rises, create public owned transport networks and enshrine the right to food in law.

And, on the Green New Deal, Patrick Harvie of the Greens said: “There’s a great deal of focus still on consumer choices and as-yet unproven future technology.

“The programme for government focuses on things like electric planes and battery trains. Well maybe one day they’ll have a role to play, but they won’t cut transport emissions now.”