Watch: Independence essential for Scotland to escape 'disaster of Brexit' – Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon has defiantly insisted there will be a second referendum on Scottish independence after the Supreme Court ruled such a vote could not take place without Westminster's consent.
The Scottish first minister and SNP leader had brought the case to court after she set out plans to hold a second vote on independence on 19 October, 2023.
But the Supreme Court ruled on Wednesday morning that the Scottish parliament does not have the power to legislate, ruling out a second vote next year.
Sturgeon slammed the decision, saying that "democracy is at stake", and insisted that she would not stop in her efforts to hold a second referendum.
She said she was not abandoning the independence route, and turned the tables on the UK government, telling supporters that "Westminster is blocking it", and that the next general election would be a "de facto referendum" on independence.
Speaking after the ruling, Sturgeon said: "In my view, that can only be an election. The next national election scheduled for Scotland is, of course, the UK general election.
"Making that both the first and the most obvious opportunity to seek what I described as a 'de facto' referendum."
A special SNP conference will be held in the new year to determine how to take the referendum on independence forward.
Sturgeon added: "Now that the Supreme Court's ruling is known and de facto referendum is no longer hypothetical, it is necessary to agree the precise detail of the proposition we intend to put before the country.
"Given the magnitude of these decisions for the SNP, the process of reaching them is one the party as a whole must be fully and actively involved in.
"I can therefore confirm that I will be asking our National Executive Committee to convene a special party conference in the new year to discuss and agree the detail of a proposed 'de facto referendum'.
"In the meantime, the SNP will launch and mobilise a major campaign in defence of Scottish democracy because we should be in no doubt that, as of today, democracy is what's at stake."
Sturgeon again insisted independence was also necessary "to escape the disaster of Brexit", which consigns Scotland to a life outside the EU.
She said: "For independence to be achieved, and as is clearer by the day, achieving independence is not just desirable, it is essential if Scotland is to escape the disaster of Brexit.
"The damage of policies... we did not vote for and the low growth, high-inequality economy that is holding us back."
Sturgeon said she s ready to make an agreement with Rishi Sunak to allow for a new referendum – but added that she would not go "cap in hand".
Sunak told MPs that the government "respects the clear and definitive ruling from the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom".
At PMQs, he said: "The people of Scotland want us to be working on fixing the major challenges that we collectively face, whether that’s the economy, supporting the NHS or indeed supporting Ukraine.
"Now is the time for politicians to work together and that’s what this government will do."