Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said the snap general election will strengthen the country's democratic mandate for a second independence referendum.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader made the prediction following Prime Minister Theresa May's shock announcement to hold an election on 8 June.

May made the decision to shore up her Brexit negotiating hand, however Sturgeon has said the move was a "huge political miscalculation".

"It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the [Conservative government's] narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future," Sturgeon said, reported Reuters.

Sturgeon initially called for a second independence referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, however it is likely that such plans will now be delayed.

She was due to submit her timetable to the government next week, but an SNP source told the Guardian that the timetable has now been scrapped.

The focus will now be on securing the party's seats at the election, where they currently hold 54 of 59 seats in Scotland.

However, the Conservatives, the Liberal Democrats and Labour are all expected to put up a greater fight north of the English border in the hope of stealing away Unionist voters and securing some seats.

Current polls support that prospect as not all Scots support a new independence vote at this stage.

A general election will also put Sturgeon under greater scrutiny to clarify some of her independence positions such as which currency will be used and whether Scotland would have its own central bank.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon attends the Scottish Parliament for a debate on the EU Referendum resultGetty

Speaking to the BBC, Sturgeon focused her message on opposing Conservative austerity, rather than what independence will look like.

"Clearly she [May] sees the opportunity, given the total disarray in the ranks of the Labour party, to crush all opposition to her, to get rid of people who disagree with her, and to give herself a free hand to take the country in the increasingly right-wing direction that she wants to take it in," Sturgeon said.

"That would mean not just the hardest possible Brexit, but more austerity and deeper cuts.

"So now is the time for Scotland's voice to be heard, and for people in Scotland to stand up for the kind of country we want Scotland to be – that is the campaign I look forward to leading in the weeks ahead."