The UK Government’s decision to block gender reform legislation in Scotland has demonstrated that Westminster is the “worst of both worlds”, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Earlier this week Scottish Secretary Alister Jack confirmed he would make a Section 35 order to prevent the Gender Recognition Reform (Scotland) Bill from becoming law in Scotland – despite it passing through the Scottish Parliament with cross-party support.

In a keynote address at the Business for Scotland annual dinner on Thursday evening, Nicola Sturgeon said the “full-frontal assault” on devolution strengthens the case for Scottish independence.

The First Minister said: “This week, we’ve entered a new and more dangerous phase for devolution.

“The Tories have broken their cover. The stealth attacks have been joined by a full-frontal assault – the decision of the Tory government to strike down a law clearly within devolved competence which was passed overwhelmingly in the Scottish Parliament, and which was supported by MSPs from all parties.”

READ MORE: Alister Jack: Trans people not part of thinking in Section 35 decision

She went onto accuse Alister Jack of acting like a “Governor-General” in deciding which Scottish law to veto.

She added: “Westminster control means the worst of both worlds – a weaker Scottish Parliament and a weaker economy.

“In fact, the result of decades of Westminster economic mismanagement is now becoming clear, not just for Scotland but for the UK as a whole.”

She said the only way to escape “damaging, tightened Westminster control” is by Scotland becoming independent.

“In an independent Scotland, like all other countries, there are no guarantees,” said the First Minister. “Our success will depend on the decisions we make.

“But if we look around Europe we can take heart and inspiration. Comparable independent countries to Scotland such as Finland, Denmark and Ireland have higher national incomes per head than the UK.

“And they aren’t just wealthier, they are fairer too. They have higher productivity and lower poverty.

READ MORE: Tory MSP Rachael Hamilton in 'insulting' comment over trans law debate

“So the question is with all our resources and talent: why not Scotland?”

Earlier on Thursday, Jack told journalists he would not revoke the order blocking the legislation and claimed he did not think about trans people “at all” when making his decision.

He claimed he law – which would speed up and simplify the process for trans people to obtain a gender recognition certificate (GRC) – would have an “adverse effect” on the operation of equalities legislation in the UK.

It is the first time the provision of the Scotland Act has been used to block Holyrood-backed legislation.