The Prime Minister has accused opposition parties, including the SNP, of seeking to “divide the country” as MPs cleared the way for a snap general election on 8 June.
Asking voters to put their trust in her to deliver a good Brexit deal, the Prime Minister warned voters that backing Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP would wreck the UK’s exit from the European Union.
She told the House of Commons: “[Jeremy] Corbyn, [Tim] Farron and [Nicola] Sturgeon want to unite together to divide our country, and we will not let them do it.”
At Prime Minister’s Questions yesterday, Mrs May signalled a brutal election campaign that will target the Labour leader, telling MPs he was “simply not fit to lead” and claiming a Labour victory “would bankrupt our economy and weaken our defences”. However, she faced accusations that she was dodging scrutiny after confirming that she would not take part in any televised election debates.
Jeremy Corbyn accused the Conservatives of presiding over falling incomes, a struggling health service, cuts to school funding and rising child poverty, and asked: “If the Prime Minister is so proud of her record, why will she not debate it?”
Mr Corbyn has ruled out a coalition with the SNP after the general election.
Following a meeting of the Labour National Executive, attended by Scottish party leader Kezia Dugdale, Mr Corbyn said the Nationalists had wrecked their progressive credentials by refusing to implement a 50p tax rate.
He said voting Labour was “the only way to remove Theresa May from office”.
SNP Westminster leader Angus Robertson called on the Prime Minister to condemn newspaper headlines suggesting the election was an opportunity to “crush the saboteurs” of Brexit.
At an appearance with her party’s MPs outside Westminster, Ms Sturgeon said the Prime Minister was guilty of political opportunism for using the election to “crush the parliamentary opposition” to a hard Brexit.
The First Minister said the SNP was fighting to win the election in Scotland, but did not need to secure a majority of the vote to keep up the pressure for a second independence referendum.
Asked what would happen if the SNP failed to win a majority of votes, Ms Sturgeon replied: “I already have a mandate.”
She added: “Make no mistake, if the SNP wins this election in Scotland – and the Tories don’t – then Theresa May’s attempt to block our mandate to hold another referendum when the time is right, will crumble to dust.”
Michelle Thomson and Natalie McGarry, the two Nationalist MPs who resigned the SNP whip following separate police investigations, were among the MPs to vote against an election.
Criticising her former party, Ms Thomson posted on Twitter: “This is a time for leadership from the opposition not abstention.”