Nicola Sturgeon yesterday ramped up the election rhetoric warning that the future of Scotland as well as the NHS and other public services were under threat from a Boris Johnson government.
In a keynote address in Dundee, Ms Sturgeon cited the “direct economic threat of Brexit”, as well as a “threat to Scotland’s public sector workforce” from the ending of free movement, and the prospect of a “Tory power-grab” of Scottish Parliament powers.
She also reiterated her belief that Jeremy Corbyn would grant a section 30 order for a second independence referendum, to ensure he was able to secure a Labour government.
However she was later branded “deluded” by the Scottish Conservatives, who also accused her of “double standards” in her desire to remain in the EU while wanting to leave the UK.
Raising Tuesday night’s ITV debate between Mr Corbyn and Mr Johnson, Ms Sturgeon said that “the SNP and Scotland were talked about but not allowed to be in the room” and that Brexit was an extreme example of Scotland’s democratic deficit and the “high price Scotland pays for Westminster control”.
She also claimed that despite “Tory austerity” her government had “prioritised investment in our NHS and other public services over tax cuts for the richest”.
Continued Westminster control means multiple threats – to our economy and our living standards, and to our NHS and other public servicesFIRST MINISTER NICOLA STURGEON
She added: “Make no mistake, it is now crystal clear that continued Westminster control means multiple threats to Scotland – to our economy and our living standards, and to our NHS and other public services.”
Describing the “economic threat of Brexit” she warned that leaving the EU would lead to “lower economic growth and therefore lower tax revenue to fund public services”, while Scotland’s workforce would be threatened as freedom of movement ends.
However her claims were attacked by Paul Masterton, Tory candidate for East Renfrewshire, who said: “Nicola Sturgeon spends every waking hour desperately talking up the downsides of the UK’s departure from the EU. Yet, when it comes to Scotland leaving our own Union, she suddenly can’t see what the fuss is all about.
“According to her, we’d leave the UK and there’d be no borders, we’d stay out of the euro, and we’d sort out our deficit at no cost whatsoever. The First Minister is utterly deluded. What’s remarkable is she doesn’t even seem to recognise her own double standards.”
He also hit out at Ms Sturgeon’s recent confirmation that her demands for a section 30 order from the next government, in order to hold a second independence referendum, would not be withdrawn should Brexit be cancelled.
“For three years, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed the Brexit vote as a justification for a second independence referendum. Now she’s confirmed that even if we were to remain in the EU, she’d demand another referendum next year anyway.
“Outside the EU or inside – it doesn’t matter; all that matters to Nicola Sturgeon is taking Scotland out of the UK. Voters at this election need to know – Nicola Sturgeon will play the ardent Remainer prior to December 12 – and then re-emerge as the ideological nationalist the day after.”
Speaking in Dundee, Ms Sturgeon said she had made no deal with Mr Corbyn on a second independence referendum but added: “I do believe if the parliamentary arithmetic enables this, then Jeremy Corbyn is not going to turn his back on an opportunity for a UK Labour government just because he’s determined to block the right of the Scottish people to choose their own future.
“It would take a lot of explaining for him to say he was walking away from an opportunity because he wanted to veto Scotland’s right to self-determination. This is a man who favours self-determination for virtually every other country on the planet; it would be a bit odd if he was to give up his chance at government.”
The First Minister was also emphatic in her claim that a Conservative government would put Scotland “under threat”, including a “Tory power grab on the Scottish Parliament in their pursuit of their Brexit vision”.
She added: “They’ve already used Brexit to grab powers from the Scottish Parliament. With the right wing of the Tory party in full cry, can anyone have any confidence there won’t be a further power-grab attempt on Scotland’s Parliament as, UK-wide, they compromise on workers’ rights and environmental standards?
“Scotland’s future should not be dependent on the whims of Westminster.”