Rosemary Thomson, Inverness: You said you would put a Section 30 order request into the PM before Christmas. Have you written the letter yet and when will you send it?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Rosemary, I said before the election was called that I intended to seek the Section 30 order by the end of the year, and there has been no change to that timetable. There is already a clear mandate to give the people of Scotland the right to choose their future – not least because the Scottish Parliament has voted for it – and by voting SNP tomorrow we can make that mandate overwhelming.

Estelle Quick: If Westminster withholds consent for another referendum, what action might be taken then?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Estelle – firstly, I think it’s important we don’t concede the principle that it’s not for any Westminster politician to decide if and when the people of Scotland should have a say on their constitutional future.

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That should only be a matter for Scotland’s people and the Scottish Parliament – and by voting SNP on Thursday, people have an opportunity to make the mandate to give people that choice overwhelming.

It is simply untenable for Westminster to continue to ignore the people of Scotland – frankly, they’re making the case for independence for us – but if they do, I’ll set out my next steps at that point.

Alasdair Smith: Why should someone who wants Brexit and independence for Scotland vote SNP?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Alasdair, whatever your views on Scotland’s constitutional future, all of us should agree that it should be a matter for the people of Scotland and not imposed upon us. I believe firmly that Scotland’s best interests lie in being an independent member state of the EU. People who voted for Brexit did so for a variety of reasons, but nobody voted for the chaos that we have seen at Westminster since. Even if the UK does leave the EU, Brexit will not be ‘done’ – it will take potentially many years to agree trade deals and a new relationship with the EU. This chaos wasn’t inevitable – it’s a symptom of the broken Westminster system. The only way to properly escape that chaos – whatever your views on Brexit – is for Scotland to become independent.

The National:

Eileen Ferguson, Dundee: Some have suggested leasing the Trident base to the UK for a period after independence. What’s your position on that?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Eileen, as you probably know I’m a long-standing opponent of Trident – I was actually involved in the CND even before I was in the SNP. In this election, if the SNP holds the balance of power we will make scrapping the replacement of these unwanted, expensive nuclear weapons a red line if Labour want our support. When we become independent, Faslane has a bright future as the home of Scotland’s conventional naval fleet. We do not support any leasing arrangements and would be seeking the speediest safe removal of Trident from Scotland.

Carolyn McLauchlan: Do we need a Scotland-in-Union-type organisation for the Yes movement to counter them in the media? Why do you think there isn’t one out there?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Carolyn, it’s a fair question but I actually think the gaffe-prone Scotland in Union do more harm than good for the Unionist cause. It’s obviously not just the SNP who support independence, and I think it’s actually helpful to have a variety of voices out there – both political parties and non-politicians – articulating their visions of an independent Scotland.

Janet Foley: Given that all mainstream media, with the exception of The National, are neither truthful or informative about the SNP or the subject of Scotland’s independence, do you have any tips as to how to counteract their influence?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Janet, the media have an important role to play and – while we politicians may not always enjoy it – they are essential to providing scrutiny to all sides in any debate. That said, I’ve always believed that the case for independence will be won not through the media, but through talking to voters and convincing them individually – you only have to look at the effectiveness of the grassroots campaign in the run-up to the 2014 referendum in bringing about a huge surge in independence support.

Kenneth Sutherland: Why do you not put forward MPs in other areas of the UK other than Scotland? Labour are in such a shambles that a UK-wide type of SNP party would clean up.

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Kenneth, I get asked this question quite a lot – especially when I’m in England! The SNP believe that Scotland’s future should be decided by people living in Scotland.

However, we can also exert a positive influence for people living in other parts of the UK by forming a progressive alliance with parties such as Plaid Cymru in Wales and the Greens in England.

Labour are certainly putting forward a lot of interesting policies south of the Border – free tuition, free prescriptions, free personal care, publicly-owned water companies, opposition to fracking – which are already a reality in Scotland under the SNP. So it’s good to see others following where we have led.

Alex McCulloch: What radical change is there in your independence case which can inspire a new Yes movement?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Alex, independence is not about a particular set of policies but about Scotland always getting the governments we vote for. That said, I think there are real opportunities with independence to do much more to tackle poverty, increase equality across our society, grow our economy, support the migration we need and invest in our public services. I also think it’s important we give people confidence in the transition to independence – that might not sound radical, but it is essential in order to deliver the kind of policies we want to see in an independent Scotland.

The National:

Sheila Urquhart, Alloa: Why does the SNP insist on parachuting “preferred” candidates into some constituencies when there are perfectly able and deserving local politicians?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Sheila, local SNP members decide who their candidate is.

Jean Morrison, Campbeltown: Do you intend to become the first prime minister of an independent Scotland?

Nicola Sturgeon: Hi Jean, the decision on who becomes the first political leader of an independent Scotland would be a matter for the people of Scotland – indeed, always getting the governments we vote for is one of the many benefits of becoming independent.

Mark Brown, Wishaw: Have you been given any guarantees, written or verbal, by EU leaders that an independent Scotland can join the EU? If they are written can we see them?

Nicola Sturgeon: EU member states have always – rightly – taken a position of not interfering in the internal affairs of another member state, so have always remained neutral on this issue.

What I can tell you is that the there is an extraordinary amount of goodwill toward Scotland across the EU – they recognise our strong desire to remain in the EU, and I am more confident than I’ve ever been – and I was pretty confident back in 2014 – that Scotland would be welcomed with open arms by the EU. As a member for the last 40 years as part of the UK, Scotland by definition meets the entry criteria.

The National:

Anne Smart: I was wondering if you are losing any sleep over Murdo Fraser’s threat to perform a citizen’s arrest, and is it not possible for you to apply a citizen’s arrest to Murdo (pictured) for admitting he has seen the postal votes for this election?

Nicola Sturgeon: It’s the season of goodwill, so I’ll be charitable and simply say that perhaps Murdo Fraser doesn’t always think comments through before he makes them.

Jo Bloomfield: What will your New Year’s Resolution for 2020 be?

Nicola Sturgeon: To work even harder for Scotland to vote Yes in an independence referendum. The case for independence has never been stronger, the need never greater.

Cathie Lloyd: How are you going to relax over Christmas/ Hogmanay? You do need to!!

Nicola Sturgeon: I’m looking forward to spending some time with my family, catching up on the big pile of unread books I’ve got waiting for me and getting ready for a very busy year ahead.