IN a direct challenge to Theresa May and the Brexiteers, Nicola Sturgeon is to bypass Westminster and open a Scottish Government office in Berlin.

The First Minister will announce the plan for the mini embassy in her speech to SNP conference today.

Earlier in the week, Sturgeon said she would set out a package of demands necessary for protecting Scotland’s interests in the wake of Britain leaving the EU, including new powers to strike international deals and greater control over immigration.

That proposal, due in the next week, would effectively mean Scotland remaining in the single market, even if the rest of the UK leaves. Anything less, the First Minister suggested, would hurt Scotland’s interests and would lead to a second referendum on Scottish independence.

That package is unlikely to be agreed to by Tories increasingly pushing for hard Brexit, which could mean Scottish voters having to make a choice on self-determination before the end of March 2019.

Sturgeon on Thursday told her conference the Scottish Government would publish an Independence Referendum Bill for consultation next week, ultimately firing the starting gun on the campaign for a Yes vote.

The Prime Minister’s official spokesman told The Telegraph Sturgeon should respect the decisions of the two referendums.

“There was a referendum in 2014 that addressed this issue that was legal and fair," he said. "The result was decisive and both parties agreed at the time to respect it. We should respect the democratic decision that was made, just as we respect the democratic decision that was made on the referendum on the EU.”

In her speech this afternoon, Sturgeon is expected to announce a “permanent trade representation for Scotland with a Scottish Innovation and Investment Hub in Berlin,” an increase in the number of staff from Scottish Development International working in Europe and a “Board of Trade drawing on the best business expertise”.

The First Minister will also announce “a new trade envoy scheme with prominent and successful Scots”. It’s unclear if this is a replacement for the GlobalScot ambassador scheme, sullied by its association with Donald Trump.

“Scotland cannot trust the likes of Boris Johnson and Liam Fox to represent us,” Sturgeon will tell conference. “They are retreating to the fringes of Europe – we intend to stay at its very heart where Scotland belongs. To our European friends, we say: Scotland is open for business.”

Scotland must remain “the progressive, internationalist, communitarian country that the majority of us living here want it be,” she will add, criticising the Tory party conference in Birmingham last week.

“The primary contest of ideas in our country is now between the SNP and the hard-right Tories.”

Scottish Conservative chief whip John Lamont said: “Scotland is anything but open for business under the SNP. It has made us the highest-taxed part of the UK and embarked on a number of anti-business measures. Now it wants to rip us out of a union which is four times more valuable than the EU’s.”

Labour’s Lewis Macdonald said Scotland deserved better than “two nationalist governments posturing at each other", adding: “Only Labour stands for what the majority of Scots want – remaining part of the UK and maintaining our relationship with Europe. It was Scottish Labour which led the criticism of the xenophobic rhetoric from the Tories at their annual conference, and it is Scottish Labour that has challenged the SNP to drop its obsession with dividing our nation.”