NICOLA Sturgeon has said she’s got “no intention of going anywhere” after opposition parties suggested she’s looking to leave politics.

The First Minister, who was re-elected in May after the SNP secured a record vote share, rejected the “wishful thinking” from her opponents and pledges to keep serving in her post for the rest of this parliament.

In a sit-down interview with the BBC’s political editor Laura Kuenssberg (below), the SNP leader was amused by speculation about her future.

The National:

"I almost take the wishful thinking of my opponents on this as some kind of - I'm sure unintended compliment - but compliment nevertheless," she told the journalist.

"It is almost as if my opponents have concluded they can't beat me or remove me from office themselves, so they're kind of crossing their fingers and hoping that I'll remove myself from office.” 

"But they are going to be really disappointed because I'm going to be around a lot longer.

"I was elected seven months ago, having asked people in Scotland to put their trust in me for a five-year term as First Minister.

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"They gave me that trust and they re-elected me. We face serious times as a country and I intend to fulfil that mandate."

During the interview, Kuenssberg also asked Sturgeon about her plans to hold a second independence referendum by 2023, Covid permitting.

The National:

The First Minister explained that she’ll be taking “necessary steps” to allow that to happen, which will include publishing a referendum bill and setting out the “advantages and opportunities of independence”.

However, she added she wouldn’t want the vote to be held during this stage of the pandemic – describing that as “while we are still worrying about face coverings and testing ourselves every day”.

It is Sturgeon’s hope that this “acute” pandemic stage will be over next year, allowing people to look to the “positive, optimistic task” of building a fairer and more prosperous Scotland.

Asked about polling for independence – which shows a near consistent 50/50 split after a lengthy series of leads for Yes last year – the First Minister accept that the Yes side has “still got a job to do” to persuade a majority of voters to back self-determination.

She told the BBC that while the Yes side is “much closer” to that phase than it has ever been, it’s not quite there yet.