Securing a vote to stay in the EU will be “front and centre” of the new Scottish Government’s early priorities, Nicola Sturgeon has told her party.
The First Minister said her ministerial team will also begin “laying the groundwork” for delivering the SNP’s election manifesto pledges over the next Parliament.
Ms Sturgeon was addressing the party’s National Council in Perth, where she praised activists for helping to secure an unprecedented third term in office.
She will lead a minority government at Holyrood, having won 63 of 129 seats in the chamber, and is due to set out her next programme for government on Wednesday.
She said: “The scale of the SNP’s victory in the election gives us a strong mandate to take forward our manifesto commitments – and places a tremendous responsibility on us to repay the trust that the people of Scotland continue to place in us.
“The new-look team of SNP ministers have already hit the ground running, and this week we will set out our early priorities for government – and front and centre of this will be securing Scotland’s continued membership of the EU in the upcoming referendum.
“I passionately believe in the positive, progressive case for EU membership.
“The social protections and benefits that membership has given us – from maternity rights, to workers’ rights, to freedom of movement – are almost so ingrained in our daily lives that it is easy to take them for granted.
“With the Tories itching to scrap the Human Rights Act and their attempts to curb trade union rights, it is clear that these social protections would not be safe in the hands of a Westminster government.
“During the election, the SNP set out a vision of a fairer, more progressive Scotland – and this week we will start laying out how we are going to deliver it.”
Ms Sturgeon will be in London on Monday to campaign with Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood and Green MP Caroline Lucas on the “progressive case for EU membership”, in a visit which will also see her meet with newly-elected London Mayor Sadiq Khan to discuss areas of mutual interest.
Meanwhile, on Thursday, the Scottish Government will propose a debate on Scotland and the EU, to make the case for a vote to Remain.
Ms Sturgeon’s pledge to put the EU referendum campaign front and centre comes as Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie accused her of taking Scottish votes to remain in the EU for granted.
He said: “The SNP seem to take for granted that Scotland will vote radically different from England and that a big Scottish Remain vote is guaranteed.
“That sloppy assumption misunderstands the complex range of views that exists in Scotland about Europe.
“If the SNP continue to behave as they are, they could risk a growth in the Leave vote.”