NICOLA Sturgeon has said she identifies as both Scottish and British.

In a comment she acknowledged “might surprise people” the First Minister said Scotland would remain part of the British Isles even as an independent country.

Speaking at an event at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Sturgeon said identity was a “complex thing”, reports The Scotsman.

Asked about how the Yes campaign can win over hearts and minds to the cause, the First Minister said: “It’s about trying to, I suppose, make the argument for independence on the basis of what it is as opposed to how people characterise it.

Nicola Sturgeon says she is 'British as well as Scottish'Nicola Sturgeon made the comments during an appearance at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival today

"So, this might surprise people, but do you know I consider myself British as well as Scottish.

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"British is an identity that comes from being part of the British Isles.

"An independent Scotland will still be part of the British Isles.”

'Identity is a complex thing' 

She said that Scottish independence would not see the country “cut ourselves off and float away up into the North Sea”.

"We’ll still be part of the British Isles. An independent Scotland would still be part of the British–Irish Council that I go to right now as First Minister,” she added.

"Identity is a complex thing. Many people live in Scotland, are as Scottish as I am, but will have a very proud Pakistani or Indian or African identity.

"Independence – it’s about self-governance. It’s about whoever lives in Scotland, wherever they come from, whatever their identity is, however multifaceted and complex that identity is, it’s about those of us living here taking responsibility for the decisions that determine what kind of country we are.”

We told earlier how protesters linked to a prominent Holocaust denier had picketed the event on Wednesday.

Activists bearing placards produced by A Force For Good, founded by Alistair McConnachie, appeared outside The Stand in Edinburgh ahead of the event.

McConnachie was expelled from Ukip in 2001 for saying he did not believe gas chambers were used to kill Jews during the Holocaust, calling eyewitness accounts of the devices “false or highly exaggerated”.