NICOLA Sturgeon has said the “broad shoulders” of the UK promised by Unionists are “nowhere to be seen” as the country faces a cost of living crisis – but that an independent Scotland could have already passed an emergency budget to take action on energy bills.

The First Minister pledged to make tackling the cost crisis “front and centre” of plans in the parliamentary year ahead, as she attacked the Westminster Government for “hibernating” over the summer.

Speaking ahead of the publication of the Scottish Government’s Programme for Government on Tuesday, she warned it was having to be produced amid an “unprecedented cloud of Westminster uncertainty”, with the new prime minister due to enter Downing Street on the same day.

But she said if Scotland was independent, an emergency budget on energy bills, VAT and on direct financial support could already have been passed.

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“A decade of austerity, Brexit and brutal welfare cuts have contributed hugely to the current cost crisis,” she warned.

Sturgeon also pledged to work with the new prime minister, but hit out at the Tory candidates Liz Truss and Rishi Sunak for spending their campaigns focused on how to “put Scotland in its place”.

She said: “On Tuesday, the Scottish Government will publish its Programme for Government for the year ahead, and tackling the cost crisis will be front and centre of our plans.

“The steps we outline this week will build on the actions we have already taken with the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament to support household budgets, such as the Scottish Child Payment, the Carer’s Allowance Supplement and the Council Tax Reduction Scheme.

“However, the key levers in this crisis remain in the hands of the Tories at Westminster – a government which has been in hibernation over the summer as the Tory faithful choose who will be the fourth prime minister in six years. Their inaction has caused huge anxiety for families and huge uncertainty for businesses. It has been a dereliction of duty which people will neither forgive nor forget.

“At this most crucial of times, we are in the situation of announcing our plans for the year ahead in an unprecedented cloud of Westminster uncertainty. We don’t know if and when an emergency budget may happen, whether Scotland’s block grant is going to be cut this year, or what other measures they may introduce – all of which could fundamentally affect our plans.”

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DURING the Tory leadership campaign, frontrunner Truss sparked a furious backlash when she suggested she would “ignore” Sturgeon.

Both Tory candidates have ruled out agreeing to a second independence referendum.

Sturgeon said she would seek to “work constructively” with whoever becomes prime minister.

But she added: “Both candidates seem to have spent the campaign focused on how they can undermine the Scottish Parliament or put Scotland in its place, rather than engage with the legitimate aspirations of the people of Scotland.

“People in Scotland will be watching carefully [to see] how Westminster responds to the current emergency facing the UK.

“The ‘broad shoulders’ that we were told existed in 2014 are nowhere to be seen, and the promise of remaining in the EU and of lower energy bills were evidently not worth the paper they were written on. Instead, a decade of austerity, Brexit and brutal welfare cuts have contributed hugely to the current cost crisis.

“If Scotland was independent, we could have passed an emergency budget by now – taking action on energy bills, on VAT and on direct financial support as many other countries have done, to give much-needed assurance to households and businesses.

“Instead, we are left wrestling with meeting the challenges of fair pay, household hardship and rising costs for public services without the tools we need to tackle them.”

Sturgeon pledged that the new prospectus for independence – which is being rolled out in a series of papers – will show how a “wealthy, resource-rich Scotland could be wealthier, fairer and happier – much like our comparable European neighbours are – with the full powers of self-government”.

She added: “As we count the increasing cost of living with Westminster, more than ever Scotland needs to seize that opportunity with both hands.”