NICOLA Sturgeon has said the SNP's 2021 manifesto will contain an explicit commitment to hold a "legal" independence referendum in the early part of the next parliament.

The First Minister told delegates she would be seeking Scots' backing for the new plebiscite as she gave her closing address to the three-day event, being held remotely for the first time.

"Next May we will ask you, the people of Scotland, to put your trust in us to continue that task of building a better country," she said.

"I will ask you to judge us on our record and endorse our plans for the future. And in that election, I will seek your authority - no-one else’s - for a legal independence referendum to be held in the early part of the new parliament."

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She added: "And then, collectively, we can answer those fundamental questions I have posed today. Who is best placed to lead Scotland’s recovery and build a better future. Westminster governments we don’t vote for?

"Or independent Scottish governments - of whatever party - chosen by us and with Scotland’s best interests at heart.

During her address she warned that Scots faced a choice between independence or a Tory government led by Boris Johnson who want to undermine the Scottish Parliament.

She put the case that independent countries of a similar size to Scotland were among the wealthiest and happiest in the world.

"As we look ahead, we should have every confidence in what is possible if we do take our future into our own hands," she said.

"Far from being too wee, Scotland is the ideal size to succeed. Independent nations of similar size to us are amongst the wealthiest, fairest and happiest in Europe. If Denmark can be a successful independent country, why not Scotland?

"If Ireland can and Norway can, why not Scotland? We have the resources, the wealth and the talent. As an independent country we can decide how best to use all those resources, all that wealth and all that talent. We will be the decision-makers."

She said Scotland's relationship with its closest friends in the rest of the UK would not end with independence but that a stronger and better one would be forged as a "partnership of equals".

She added that as an independent country Scotland could be a "bridge between the UK and Europe" and help "bring people closer together".

The First Minister and SNP leader said Westminster cannot veto Scotland's "inalienable right of self-determination".

And she warned Johnson: "We are seeing across the Atlantic, what happens to those who try to hold back the tide of democracy.

"They get swept away."

Warning Scots that the choice was between independence and staying in the UK led by the Conservative Government, she underlined Boris Johnsons's remarks that "devolution had been a disaster".

"I know there are many people in Scotland who would prefer a stronger Scottish Parliament to independence. I respect that," she said.

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"But the hard truth is this. A stronger Scottish Parliament is not on offer from Westminster. Far from it. They intend to take away powers our Parliament already has. And we can’t say we haven’t been warned."

She added: "Jacob Rees-Mogg - that shining advertisement for modern democracy ... not - couldn’t have been clearer last week. He wants to 'undo' devolution. So the choice for Scotland is pressing.

"Are we prepared to have the powers we voted for stripped away - at a time when we need them most?

"Are we prepared for our Scottish Parliament to be undermined and dragged down by Westminster?

"Or will we decide to make our Scottish Parliament independent?"