New SNP depute Brown calls on independence supporters to 'get ready'

8 June 2018, 12:37 | Updated: 8 June 2018, 12:44

Keith Brown SNP

New SNP depute leader Keith Brown has called on independence supporters to "get ready" for a second vote on Scotland's future.

Mr Brown, who is the Economy Secretary in Nicola Sturgeon's cabinet, said while it was not clear when another referendum could be held, members and those outside of the party had to be prepared for the contest.

He spoke after being announced as the SNP's new depute leader at the start of the party's Aberdeen conference.

Mr Brown, who was the frontrunner throughout the campaign, defeated grassroots activist Julie Hepburn and councillor Christopher McEleny.

The contest had been sparked when Angus Robertson resigned the post after losing his seat at the House of Commons in last year's snap general election.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has promised to consider the timing of a possible second referendum this autumn, when more details about the UK's Brexit deal are known - with Mr Brown saying the decision was in the "safest of hands".

He told SNP members: "I am absolutely confident the person you have just elected me to deputise for Nicola Sturgeon will steer us towards that decision.

"So while we wait for clarity on Brexit - and I don't think anybody could argue we have anything like clarity on Brexit even though we're only a few short months away from the deal - the challenge is for all of us in the party and the wider Yes movement across Scotland to get ready."

As part of efforts to build a "credible plan for independence" Mr Brown vowed to speak to trade unions, business leaders and others from across Scotland.

He also used his speech to announce grants of up to £4,000 for companies in Scotland to help them build export opportunities.

He stated: "This is a clear sign that the Scottish Government will stand behind Scotland's businesses as they face the reality of Brexit - exactly what a responsible government should be doing."