THE First Minister has said she is no longer “100% sure” that the Tories wouldn’t go as far as attempting to abolish the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking to The News Agents podcast Nicola Sturgeon told of a “concerted effort” in Westminster to weaken Holyrood and delegitimise it.

It comes after the UK Government used a Section 35 order to block Scotland’s gender reforms from becoming law, and shortly after the first round of levelling up funding was announced, a scheme which has been criticised for cutting into policy areas devolved to the Scottish Parliament.

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The SNP leader also gave her views on former Tory PM Boris Johnson, Labour leader Keir Starmer and the row around Nadhim Zahawi’s tax affairs.

The FM also told how she believes that critics of gender reforms are using the debate to “cloak” their transphobia, misogyny and racism.

Sturgeon was asked if she thinks there is a possibility that the Tory Party may abolish the Scottish Parliament.

She said: “Other people on my own side of the independence argument over the years would say the Tories are capable of abolishing the Scottish Parliament or completely taking away significant powers.

“And I've always resisted that. That's hyperbole. Let's not go down that road.

“Now, I still don't think it is likely that they would try to abolish the Scottish Parliament. Am I 100% sure of that anymore? No.

“But short of that, I do think that there is a concerted effort to undermine, delegitimise and remove powers from this parliament.”

The First Minister also gave her assessment of Johnson, revealing it was “impossible” to do business with the former prime minister as he was full of “bluff and bluster”. She claimed that anything difficult was passed onto someone else, and that his impact is still being felt in UK politics.

She added: “Boris Johnson is in a category of his own, I suppose, and maybe he would take that as a compliment, but it's not meant as a compliment. I think we're still living with this.

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“He kind of degraded the whole political space and, you know, the sense of probity and integrity in government in a way that I think will have a legacy for quite some time to come.”

On the row around Zahawi’s tax affairs, Sturgeon said she would have sacked the former chancellor if she was in Rishi Sunak’s shoes. Noting that the PM told the House of Commons the issue had been dealt with when it hadn’t, and it showed Sunak was struggling to get straight answers.

“I can't work out what Rishi Sunak thinks he's doing with this because I look at it and I think he is going to presumably have to resign at some point,“ Sturgeon added, “Why prolong the agony? Why not just get it done?”

Sturgeon also criticised Starmer’s embrace of Brexit, and claimed he was turning the party into a “more palatable version of the Tories”.

The National: The First Minister gave a lengthy interview on a wide variety of topicsThe First Minister gave a lengthy interview on a wide variety of topics (Image: The News Agents)

She suggested that if Labour wins the next UK-wide ballot, they will have to work with the SNP, particularly if they hold the balance of power after the next General Election.

Sturgeon added: “And incidentally, I don't believe Keir Starmer on that. I think if we get into this scenario, he will be biting the hand of the SNP leader to try to work together.

“He can oppose independence, but there's many of his own party members here in Scotland, perhaps supporters more than members, that support independence and even more who would absolutely think it is for the right of the Scottish people to choose.”

The FM said it was “fine” that Starmer did not agree with the SNP, as they are opposing political parties.

“But if Scotland votes for the SNP in a General Election, as it has done in the past three general elections, then by saying he won't work with the SNP under any circumstances, what he's effectively saying to Scotland, is that the democratic choices of Scotland should be ignored and they don't count,” she added.

“They're not legitimate because people in Scotland are not voting the way Keir Starmer wants them to vote, that is a horrendous position.”

Listen to the full interview on The News Agents podcast on Global Player.