Nicola Sturgeon has branded Boris Johnson “dishonest” over his flagship election pledge to get Brexit done and claimed his deal with EU leaders would lead to years of “chaos and division.”
The First Minister insisted the “contempt” shown to Scotland by Westminster since the Brexit vote means the only way the country can find a “basis of equality” was as an independent state back inside European Union.
Sturgeon hit the campaign trail in the East Dunbartonshire constituency yesterday where the SNP is hoping to unseat Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson.
The Prime Minister has used the opening week of the election campaign to portray a choice between his “oven ready” deal with EU leaders which would get Brexit done, against the prospect of two referendums, on the EU and Scottish independence, under a “shady deal” agreed by the SNP and Labour.
But Sturgeon insisted yesterday that voters won’t be taken in by this approach.
“People see that the Tories have been creators of the division – not just because of Brexit per se, but the particular hardline approach that they’ve taken to Brexit,” the SNP leader said.
“It’s also true that Boris Johnson talks in that peculiar way he has of an ‘oven ready’ deal.
“It is actually dishonest to suggest that if this deal goes through it gets Brexit done – this is a withdrawal deal.
“It doesn’t settle anything about the future relationship.
“All it would do is open the door to potentially years of very complex, chaotic trade negotiations.
“And also because of the fact that he has said in this campaign – and I wouldn’t put too much store in anything Boris Johnson says given his track record – but he has said he wouldn’t want to extend the extension period beyond the end of the next year.
“Given that most people think it would be impossible to do a trade deal in effectively less than a year, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of next year opens up again.
“The Tories are the ones to me who seem to be guaranteeing further chaos and division.
“What I think we need to do is find a way to escape that by stopping Brexit and allowing Scotland to choose our own future.”
The First Minister used the SNP’s election launch on Friday to set out her price of a deal with Labour in a hung parliament, with the transfer of power from Westminster to Holyrood allowing a second referendum to be staged next year at the top of the list.
And the SNP leader insisted Scotland would quickly rejoin the EU where it would find a better future than the current constitutional set-up.
“You only have to look at Ireland over the past few years – an independent country in the European Union getting support and solidarity from its partners,” Sturgeon added.
“Scotland would be in there as an equal, independent country. Within the UK, Westminster system as it is now Scotland is being treated with contempt, our views are ignored and we face being taken out of the European Union when we didn’t vote for it.
“There’s no basis of equality in there.”
The Prime Minister claimed on a visit to Scotland last week that Jeremy Corbyn will rely on the SNP to get into power and has agreed a “shady deal” with Sturgeon to have a second referendum. The result is that next year will be a chaotic year of two referendums,” Johnson claimed.
The SNP leader accused the UK government of short-changing young people with its “discriminatory” minimum wage policy and called for an end to the “rip-off” of workers aged under 25.
The national minimum wage is currently set at £8.21 for employees aged 25 and over, and reduces in line with age, with under-18s receiving £4.35 per hour.
The First Minister said: “Even before Brexit takes away so many opportunities for our young people, the Tories are already short-changing them with their discriminatory minimum wage policy.
“Two people working alongside each other, doing the same job, could be paid entirely different wages, just because of their age. That is simply not fair.
“Around 89,000 young people in Scotland would be better off if they were simply paid the same living wage as their older colleagues.”