John Swinney says Scotland could be an independent country by 2029

John Swinney has claimed independence can be delivered within five years as the arguments are "compelling”.

The First Minister said ending the Union was the “answer” to the cost-of-living crisis and Brexit which he said were the result of decisions taken in Westminster.

The new SNP leader is facing claims of going soft on his party's key aim after he scrapped the post of independence minister in his reshuffle

But he offered hope to independence supporters on the timescale of a new Scottish state.

When asked whether independence could happen in five years, Swinney told Sky News: “I think independence can be delivered in that timescale because the arguments for it are compelling.

“If we look at two of the biggest issues we face as a country in Scotland: the effect of the cost of living and the implications of Brexit.

“Both of those major strategic factors that are doing severe economic and social damage to Scotland are because of bad decisions taken in Westminster, and independence is the answer to that.”

However, he acknowledged that the support for independence was not yet “compelling”.

“We have got work to do to build greater support for independence, to make that support level compelling within Scotland, and that’s what my leadership will be about”, he said.

Tory MSP Craig Hoy said: “John Swinney has made it crystal clear that he and his government will not just continue, but accelerate, their relentless and divisive push for independence.

“The latest SNP leader is just another nationalist obsessed with plotting to break up the United Kingdom.

“The real priorities of Scots will continue to be ignored because vital time and resources are being wasted on the SNP’s push for independence."

A UK Government spokesperson said: “People in Scotland want both their Governments to be concentrating on the issues that matter most to them, like growing our economy, further reducing inflation and improving public services.

“We want to work constructively with the Scottish Government to tackle our shared challenges because that is what families and businesses in Scotland expect.

“This is not the time to be talking about distracting constitutional change.”

To sign up to the Daily Record Politics newsletter, click here.