THE Scottish Government will produce a “comprehensive” financial plan for independence ahead of a second referendum, John Swinney has pledged.

The deputy first minister promised to deliver “relevant and realistic” information on the financial prospects of an independent nation.

It comes after Nicola Sturgeon confirmed she was aiming to hold a second plebiscite by the end of 2023 as long as the Covid crisis is under control.

The First Minister, announcing her Programme for Government in Parliament, said her administration is to restart work on "a detailed prospectus" in preparation for another vote.

Speaking this morning, Swinney confirmed those preparations would include an economic plan for independence.

He told BBC Good Morning Scotland that the Government would publish an “open and comprehensive and transparent” analysis.

The deputy first minister explained: “It's got to address the issues that members of the public will have on their minds and set out the type of vision that we have of what would be the implications of Scotland being able to take the decisions that currently are reserved to the UK Government, to open up the opportunities to collaborate with our European partners in a way that the United Kingdom government has turned its back on.”

He added: “There will have to be a financial prospectus. The financial issues are different for absolutely everybody.

“Look at the decisions the UK Government yesterday where manifesto commitments [on tax and pensions] were turned on their head because of the impact of the pandemic.

“So the world is different and we have to adjust to that and make sure we have a prospectus that is relevant and realistic for the circumstances that we face.”

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Swinney also confirmed the Government’s timeline for an independence referendum, assuming that the pandemic is “under control”.

He said: “Well there's obviously got to be preparatory work to make sure that we can effectively and properly and openly take forward the question of independence and the public can be involved in a debate and a discussion about that issue.

“We've said that the referendum, Covid permitting, will take place in the first half of this parliamentary term, and that's by the end of 2023. We're taking the preparatory to work to make sure we can have that choice.

“We expect to be in a position where the pandemic is under control, where we are able because of the success of the vaccination programme, and the other mitigation measures that we’re taking, that we will have Covid under control.

“That's the Government's strategy, it's our strategic intent that we are pursuing.”

The deputy first minister, and Covid Recovery Secretary, then rejected claims from Unionist opposition that the Government is being sidetracked from tackling the pandemic due to its planning for an independence referendum.

He replied: “We are taking the necessary preparatory steps to ensure that Scotland can have the democratic choice that people voted for in the election in 2021, when a majority of members of the Scottish Parliament were elected on a commitment to have a referendum on independence.

“That is what the Government is going to take the preparatory steps to do, while we take the steps to deal with Covid recovery and all the other priorities that we address within government.

“But we will do that in a safe and sustainable way to make sure that people can have the choice that they voted for.”