Constitutional Relations Secretary to call for inclusive indyref2 drive

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Mike Russell is expected to urge SNP delegates to form an inclusive case for independence in his opening speech at the party’s conference in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

Listen to all of Scotland to build support for independence, Scotland’s Constitutional Relations Secretary will urge the party faithful at the SNP conference.

Mike Russell will give the opening speech at the party’s spring conference in Edinburgh on Saturday.

He is expected to tell delegates Scotland will become independent if party members “take the right path in the right way”.

Mr Russell’s comments will follow First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s statement at the Scottish Parliament earlier this week that if Brexit happens there should be another Scottish independence referendum before the next Holyrood elections in 2021.

On Friday, she appeared to hint the vote on Scotland’s future could take place even if the UK remains in the EU, saying “many people” would agree Westminster’s treatment of Scotland during the Brexit process fits the material change in circumstances required to give the party a mandate for a new vote.

In his conference opening speech, Mr Russell is expected to say: “Scotland is moving inexorably to independence.

“And we will get there as long as we take the right path in the right way – a path and a way set out by the First Minister on Wednesday.

“We need to encourage everyone who lives here to play a part in building our new national story.

“We will only do so by working with them and listening to them because in so doing we will all become stronger.”

He will add: “The citizens’ assembly announced by the First Minister on Wednesday is a radical, new initiative.

“It will allow Scotland to engage with its future in a constructive and thoughtful way.

“Much of what we have as a nation experienced during the Brexit process has been at odds with the values of our wider society in Scotland.

“We must find ways to ensure that those values and principles are enshrined in our governance.

“Our fellow citizens can help us to do that.”

He said an inclusive and open-minded assembly would “help our country to come together round a shared vision”.

SNP leader Ms Sturgeon will address delegates in her closing speech to conference on Sunday.

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