Mrs May urged those who believe in the UK to speak up against the “narrow, tunnel-vision politics of the nationalists” after sensationally announcing an election for less than eight weeks time.
Writing in today’s Scotsman, the Prime Minister said a vote for the Scottish Conservatives would send a “clear message” of opposition to the SNP’s “divisive” plans for a second independence vote.
The views expressed by Mrs May confirmed that Nicola Sturgeon’s proposal to hold another vote by spring 2019 will be the dominant election issue north of the Border.
Despite repeatedly ruling out an early election, Mrs May performed a U-turn when she made her announcement to hold a 8 June poll in a statement outside Downing Street yesterday morning.
With the help of opposition parties, Mrs May is expected to comfortably get the two-thirds majority in the House of Commons required to trigger an early election when MPs vote on her proposal today.
The Prime Minister believes she can take advantage of the turmoil engulfing Labour under Jeremy Corbyn’s leadership and build on her massive lead in the polls to increase her Westminster majority.
Mrs May argued an election was required to provide the stability and strong leadership required to negotiate the best possible deal for the UK from the Brexit negotiations.
In an article for the Scotsman, Mrs May indicated she regards the election as a chance for her party to make a dent in the SNP’s dominance of Scottish Westminster politics.
“Those of us who believe in our United Kingdom, and in the benefits of sharing together the risks and rewards of national life as one people, must speak up for it. In response to the narrow, tunnel-vision politics of the nationalists, who see every issue through the distorting prism of grievance, we who believe in unity and solidarity across our country must work to offer a positive and compelling alternative,” Mrs May wrote.
“This general election presents us with an opportunity to make afresh the positive and compelling case for common British endeavour and collective British achievement within a United Kingdom. A vote for the Scottish Conservatives in June will do two things. It will send a clear message of opposition to the SNP’s divisive plans for a second independence referendum, and it will strengthen my hand as I negotiate on behalf of the whole United Kingdom with the EU.”
Mrs May added: “In Scotland, only Ruth Davidson and her Scottish Conservative colleagues are able to stand up for our United Kingdom and provide a strong voice against the SNP. And only a strong Conservative government at Westminster can deliver a Brexit that works for the whole UK.”
Ms Sturgeon also acknowledged that the election would be dominated by indyref2 in Scotland when issued a statement saying if offered the chance for the SNP to “reinforce” its mandate for a second vote on independence.
But in broadcast interviews, the First Minister took care to emphasise that she already had an indyref2 mandate as a result of the Scottish elections and the recent Holyrood vote in favour of a second vote.
And she steered clear of getting into discussions over whether a reduction in the SNP’s number of MPs would undermine her case for another independence vote between autumn next year and spring 2019. In the 2015 general election the SNP won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats.
Instead, Ms Sturgeon attempted to present the snap election as a contest between her party and a right wing Tory party, which wanted a hard Brexit. The SNP leader said Mrs May had made a “huge political miscalculation” describing her bid for a June vote as “one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history”.
Ms Sturgeon said the Prime Minister was putting the interests of the Conservatives ahead of the country’s.
“This will be – more than ever before – an election about standing up for Scotland, in the face of a right-wing, austerity obsessed Tory government with no mandate in Scotland, but which now thinks it can do whatever it wants and get away with it. This move is a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister.”