'Flirting With EFTA': Sturgeon Says Scotland May Join Free Trade Association

Ms Sturgeon said yesterday she accepted that it was "possible, not necessarily desirable" that for "a period" an independent Scotland would be in Efta.

"My position is I want Scotland to be in the EU.

Labour will focus on the day job, while the SNP obsesses with independence and the Tories drive us towards a hard Brexit", she continued.

The First Minister wants to make her call to maintain Scotland's place in the single market a "fundamental pillar of the UK's negotiating remit".

"We have to set that out at the time because there are still some uncertainties, many uncertainties, around the Brexit process".

Senior EU figures have said Scotland would not be able to inherit the UK's membership and would have to join a lost of five "candidate" countries - Albania, Macedonia, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey.

She said: "We have argued and continue to argue either for it to be scrapped or for fundamental reform of the Common Fisheries Policy".

In fact, all new European Union members who joined in 2004 (Poland, Hungary, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Cyprus and Malta), in 2007 (Bulgaria and Romania) and Croatia in 2013, are under the obligation to join the euro, according to their accession treaties.

Nicola Sturgeon give a talk in South Queensferry on Tuesday, marking 10 years of the SNP in government.

She has also delayed setting out how she will press on with preparing for that referendum until after the election.

The SNP won 11 seats against the nine seats won by the Tories, and in the first-past-the-post General Election, polling experts are predicting that Salmond will comfortably hold Gordon, where his majority in 2015 over Liberal Democrat opponent Christine Jardine was 8,687.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the anniversary marked a "missed opportunity".

He added: "She claims we must have a referendum on independence because we're leaving the EU".

An independent Scotland would use the pound "until we decide to do something else", Nicola Sturgeon has said.

She denied Scottish education as a whole is going backwards, adding: "On literacy and numeracy we have a particular challenge but on many other measures of Scottish education that is just not true". At the same time, there had been a worsening performance gap between the least and most well-off pupils, after 10 years of Scottish National party government.

Nicola Sturgeon has sought to redefine the mandate that she is seeking in this United Kingdom general election.

Vanessa Coleman