Nicola Sturgeon has warned of the “damage” an increased Conservative majority at Westminster would cause, stating that in the coming UK election “only the SNP stands between Scotland and an increasingly hard-line Tory government”.
Speaking at Westminster today, where she joined her party’s MPs, the First Minister said Theresa May had called the election “not for the good of the country but for simple party advantage”.
She was speaking after the Prime Minister on Tuesday announced plans for a snap poll to be held on 8 June.
The First Minister said a vote for the SNP would be a vote to protect Scotland’s interests at Westminster and lead to increased investment in public services.
She said: “Now, more than ever, Scotland needs strong voices.
“Yesterday, it became clear beyond doubt that, for Theresa May, party comes before country. For months the Prime Minister has said that a snap, early election was, in her view, the last thing the country needed. Now was not the time, she said, to be distracted from the job at hand.
“But yesterday, she changed her mind - not for the good of the country - but for simple party advantage. Her motive is clear. She knows that as the terms of her hard Brexit become clearer, the deep misgivings that so many people already have will increase and grow. So she wants to act now to crush parliamentary the parliamentary opposition that she faces. Labour’s self-inflicted weakness has presented the excuse.”
Insisting that she would ensure Scotland’s voice is not silenced, she added: “We have seen the damage the Tories have done with no majority of their own and then with a small majority. We should be in no doubt what a strengthened Tory government would mean.
“It would mean not just the hardest possible Brexit, but also further austerity and deeper cuts. It would mean damage to our public services and more pain for the vulnerable. And it would mean a rightwards shift in the governance of the UK that just a few years ago, UKIP could scarcely have dreamed of.
“So the SNP in this election will - as we always do - stand up for Scotland.
“A vote for the SNP is a vote to protect Scotland’s interests. Only the SNP stands between Scotland and an increasingly hard-line Tory government.
“It is a vote to end austerity and for investment in our public services.”
And she said that victory for her party in Scotland would lead to the Prime Minister’s resistance to a second independence referendum “crumbling to dust”.
“It is a vote to ensure that the future of Scotland - the kind of country we are - will be decided, not here at Westminster but in Scotland, by the Scottish people,” Ms Sturgeon added.
“This is an election that has been called in the narrow party interests of the Tories. That’s why, though we won’t stand in its way, we will not endorse the Prime Minister’s opportunism.
“But we intend to make sure that in this election, the interests of Scotland come first.”