JOANNA Cherry has appealed to Nicola Sturgeon to update the case for independence following the SNP’s victory at the Holyrood election.

In her first column for The National after returning to public duties after a period of time off to focus on her health, she called for detailed work to be given on what an independent Scotland should look like.

She cited the economic argument, the timetable over EU accession and how cross-border trade is handled with the UK by the new state.

During the election campaign the First Minister was pressed on these issues by journalists and political opponents and said an updated white paper will be published giving detailed information before a new vote.

The Scottish Government want a second referendum to be held - with or without the UK Government’s agreement - within the new parliamentary term with the First Minister indicating it should take place by the end of 2023 so long as the Covid crisis has passed.

However, she has also made clear her immediate and first priority is tackling the pandemic.

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Writing in The National tomorrow, Cherry acknowledged the crucial importance in dealing with the pandemic, but argued that other ministers in the Cabinet should make progress on preparing the groundwork for the referendum “without delay”.

“And so the case for independence is reinforced,” she wrote referring to the election again of a pro-independence majority of MSPs in Holyrood.

“But it really is time to put a bit more meat on the bones of what an independent Scotland would look like and to have answers ready for the big questions that not just the media, but voters will quite reasonably ask during a second independence campaign.”

She added: “So I hope that from now on the independence debate will be more about policy than process.

“During the election campaign the First Minister indicated that the Growth Commission report needs revisited and, that, following on Brexit and the pandemic, there is work to be done on the economic case for independence, the timetable for Scotland’s accession to the EU and how we handle cross border trade with the rest of the UK.

“I look forward to hearing who the FM will put in charge of getting this work done before the next independence referendum campaign starts and I hope to be able to make a useful contribution.”

She continued: “The death of an otherwise fit and healthy young woman from Covid earlier this week shows that the FM is right to put managing the pandemic and Covid Recovery at the top of her list, but there ought to be space for others in the cabinet to lay the groundwork for indyref2 without further delay.”

In her column Cherry, who was sacked by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford from her frontbench role as the party’s spokeswoman on justice and home affairs, also spoke out about the disorder caused by Rangers fans in Glasgow last weekend.

She said the “behaviour disgraces our country” and “it is imperative that this bigotry and racism is addressed”. She also raised concerns over the policing of the fans.

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Hundreds of Rangers supporters crowded into the city centre last weekend following the team winning the Scottish league.

Fights broke out among them with supporters chanting sectarian and anti-Irish and anti-Catholic abuse as they turned the centre of Scotland’s largest city into no go zone for other citizens. Fans were also filmed urinating in public.

“This behaviour disgraces our country. At a time when Scotland is looking to take its place on the world stage, it is imperative that this bigotry and racism is addressed particularly as the racism is directed against one of our most important European allies,” she said with reference to Ireland, a potential key ally in Scotland’s campaign to rejoin the EU.

“There is also the risk that Scotland’s reputation will suffer serious damage internationally if this emboldened anti-Catholic hatred seeks to manifest itself during the planned visit of His Holiness Pope Francis to the COP26 summit in Glasgow. “

She added: “I am not alone in being struck by the contrast between the policing of these fans and other groups in our society. That contrast is so stark that it is reasonable to ask whether the principle of equality before the law is being respected by Police Scotland.

“I declare an interest as someone who is half Irish and brought up in the Catholic tradition, but if this behaviour was directed at any other religion or indeed any other minority in our society it would be considered intolerable. It’s time to make the promise of equality real for all.”

Read Joanna Cherry's full column in tomorrow's edition of The National