NICOLA Sturgeon fought back tears as she refuted allegations that she had seen an “opportunity” for political gain in the Covid pandemic.

Speaking to the inquiry at an evidence session in Edinburgh on Wednesday, the former first minister became visibly emotional as she knocked back the accusations.

She said: “I didn't see an opportunity of any description in Covid. I saw a threat, a risk, a catastrophe.

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“My memories of the early part of 2020 in terms of how I was feeling and thinking and the emotions that I was experiencing was at first fear, at what might be about to unfold and confront the country.

“At times and I think you've seen snippets of perhaps the sort of human side of being a leader and a politician in these moments. At times in those early days, I felt overwhelmed by the scale of what we were dealing with, and perhaps more than anything I felt an overwhelming responsibility to do the best I could.”

She added: “So the idea that in those horrendous days, weeks, I was thinking of a political opportunity, I find, well, it's just, it wasn't true.”

Sturgeon also told the inquiry she felt “overwhelmed” by the scale of the Covid pandemic, as well as an “overwhelming” responsibility to do the best she could.

She told the inquiry she did not believe Boris Johnson was the right prime minister for the job and became emotional when she was asked if she was the right first minister.

Holding back tears again, she said: “I was the first minister when the pandemic struck. There’s a large part of me wishes that I hadn’t been, but I was and I wanted to be the best first minister.”

Sturgeon added that it was “for others to judge” if she succeeded.

Levelling Up Secretary Michael Gove had previously accused the Scottish Government of seeking “political conflict” during the pandemic.

Speaking during an evidence session on Monday, Gove said: “There are, and were, occasions when the Scottish Government was thinking politically, as we can see, and, of course, it is the case the SNP has a political mission to achieve Scotland’s independence, i.e. destroy the United Kingdom.

He added: “It would be naive not to be aware that highly skilled politicians, including those at the top of the Scottish Government, might well see what they perceive to be political advantage at certain points.”

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However, Gove (above) faced his own accusations that he had sought to politicise the pandemic for Unionist ends after being shown a report he had penned and presented to the Tory Cabinet in July 2020. 

Entitled the “State of the Union”, Gove’s paper urged the Tory government to make the Union a “cornerstone” of all that they did.

Prepared during the height of the pandemic, the top Tory’s paper said: “Absent Covid-19, I am firmly of the view that the risk to the Union would be the greatest challenge this Government needed to confront.”