FIRST Minister Nicola Sturgeon has told a major German news website that Scotland is “paying a heavy price for its dependence”.

She made the case for an independent Scotland in an interview with Der Spiegel, coming amid a spotlight on the nation hosting COP26.

Sturgeon also used the interview to hit out at Boris Johnson over Brexit and warned that Glasgow would judge him “not by what he says, but by what he does”.

Asked if Scotland could afford a long-term political war with England, Sturgeon replied: “You’re a journalist from an independent country, right? Is that independence a waste of time for you?

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“Right now, in this moment, Scotland is paying a heavy price for its dependence.

“We talked about the fisheries dispute, we see that Scottish supermarkets are missing certain products because of a supply shortage.

“Because of Brexit, which was carried out against the will of the Scots, we have lost our right to move freely anywhere in Europe.

“And we are not at the negotiating table at the climate summit in Glasgow because we are not an independent country.

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“I don't know of any independent country in the world that would be willing to voluntarily renounce its independence. That alone says it all.”

The German paper also pressed Scotland’s leader on the likelihood of Prime Minister Johnson rejecting calls for indyref2.

The National:

Sturgeon said: “Boris Johnson will not be able to avoid the answer to one question in the end: does he accept democracy and the will of the Scottish Parliament? Or does he want to drag us to court to stop us? Despite all differences with the government in London: I believe that we still live in a democracy.”

Asked if she would disregard his “no”, she added: “The question is not whether I stand against him. I am the democratically elected First Minister of Scotland and accountable to the Scottish Parliament. So you have to ask him the question. Is he a democrat or a democracy denier? Time will tell.”

Addressing the key theme of the COP26 summit, the First Minister pointed to licensing procedures for oil and gas fields that Scotland would have more control over as an independent state.

She warned of the risk of further "escalation" in the fisheries row between the UK Government and France.

Sturgeon said: "We're seeing what Brexit really means everywhere right now, and none of it is good. In the fishermen's dispute with France, Scottish interests are even directly at stake. The boat that was arrested by French authorities last week is a Scottish one. 

"It is therefore very important to me that the situation does not escalate further and further. The governments in London and Paris, but also the EU as a whole, should sit down at a table and resolve the conflict while observing existing treaties."

Sturgeon added the UK Government's position on the Northern Ireland Protocol was "absurd", and that she feared "for domestic political reasons", London had more interest in continuing to fuel the row.

The German interviewer remarked that it sounded clear the SNP leader was still seeking independence for Scotland.

She replied: "My plans haven't changed since the Scottish elections in May. I want Scots to be able to vote democratically on independence during this legislative period, ideally before the end of 2023.

"Like all other European countries, we are of course struggling with the consequences of the pandemic, and I have made it clear that this is my immediate priority. But that does not mean that we deviate from our independence plans by an inch."