NICOLA Sturgeon has said “not taking Scotland to independence” is one of her regrets after standing down as SNP leader.

The former first minister told the Iain Dale All Talk show at the Edinburgh Fringe that she believes Scotland will become independent “sooner rather than later” as she hit out at the “Westminster establishment” for blocking democracy.

Sturgeon said that she believed “people power” would eventually deliver independence for Scotland, and insisted that the issue would have to be put to the Scottish people at an upcoming election.

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The Glasgow Southside MSP also told the crowd in the Edinburgh International Conference Centre (EICC) on Thursday that she didn’t want her predecessor Alex Salmond “in her life” any more, after he had said he wouldn’t rule out reconciliation.

She also told the crowd that her marriage to former SNP chief executive Peter Murrell was not something for “people to worry about” after she was asked about the impact of the SNP probe on her life.

Asked by Dale if “ultimately you failed” because she didn’t secure an independence referendum or Scottish independence during her time as party leader, Sturgeon said: “Well, yeah, I would have loved to have taken Scotland to independence, that’s one of the regrets I have that I as leader didn’t manage to do that.

“I suppose that’s balanced with, I campaigned with independence literally all of my life, achieving it is more important to me than the question of who is leader when it is achieved.

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“I do believe Scotland will become independent sooner rather than later, but I regret not being able to take it further.”

Sturgeon added that one of the reasons she stood down from the role of first minister in February this year was because she thought she had “taken it as far as I could”.

“There’s something here, that without trying to shift the focus of this discussion, we need to be really, really clear about - the fact that Scotland is not yet independent, the fact that I did not secure another referendum is not because I didn’t try hard enough, it’s not because me or my government didn’t believe it strongly enough.

“The reason is we face a Westminster government, actually a Westminster establishment because Labour, to its great shame, is in the same position now, that refuses to recognise Scottish democracy.

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“They refuse to recognise election result after election result.”

Sturgeon said that the issue of independence should be put to the electorate at an election, and that it was the task of the party to argue that it is not an “abstraction or distraction”.

“It's absolutely fundamental to the issues that people are grappling with,” she added.

When Dale put to Sturgeon that her predecessor Salmond had managed to get Westminster to agree to a referendum, the former first minister pointed out that then Tory Prime Minister David Cameron agreed in a bid to call the SNP’s bluff.

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She added that it “backfired” as the result was a lot closer than the Tories had expected it to be.

“It was always going to be, after one referendum when we scared the bejeezus out of the Westminster establishment by coming so close to winning independence, of course it was always going to be more difficult to have them say, ok, we’re going to let you do that all over again,” she added.

It comes as Sturgeon, in response to Salmond’s comments that he would be “sad” if he remained on poor terms with her, said that she no longer wanted to spend time with her former mentor.

The National: EDINBURGH, UNITED KINGDOM - MAY 09:  Alex Salmond SNP leader and his deputy Nicola Sturgeon stands with SNP's 47 newly elected MSP's after taking their oath in a swearing in ceremony at the Scottish Parliament May 9, 2007 in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Sturgeon said she would be “very surprised” if Salmond (pictured above) meant the comments he had made, and said that she felt “indifference” towards him.

“I was very close to Alex for a long, long time. We achieved great things together and I will always be proud of that,” she said.

“But over recent years he has revealed himself to be somebody that I don’t want to have in my life; I don’t particularly want to have a relationship with (him).”

She added that she is now in a place where “there are other people I would rather spend time with”.