NICOLA Sturgeon has pledged a second referendum will be at the heart of the SNP’s election campaign and said the time for independence is “coming soon”.

The First Minister said while efforts would continue to try to stop Brexit and its impact, the most important thing was preparing to give the people the choice of independence in a referendum.

Addressing business leaders, she also said she believes Scotland is closer to becoming independent “than we have ever been before”.

The FM made her remarks during a keynote speech at a Business for Scotland dinner in Glasgow on Friday.

She criticised the “shambles” of Westminster and said it was making the case for independence “much more effectively than anyone else can”.

She said: “I have believed in, campaigned for and argued for independence all of my life, as have many of you here in this room. But now, surely now, the argument is undeniable. You can’t look at Westminster right now and come to any other conclusion than that Scotland would do much, much better as an independent country.”

Sturgeon acknowledged some people were impatient for indyref2, saying she was often urged by people to “call it” now. But she added: “We have called it – the legislation is going through the Scottish Parliament right now.”

The FM said a General Election would give the opportunity for Scottish independence to be put “at the very heart of that contest”.