Nicola Sturgeon: Theresa May’s snap general election a ‘huge political miscalculation’
The First Minister also called the decision “one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history”
Nicola Sturgeon - Image credit: David Anderson/Holyrood
Nicola Sturgeon has called Theresa May’s decision to call a snap general election in June “one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history”.
The SNP leader also accused the Conservative Prime Minister of putting the interests of her party ahead of those of her country, calling the move a “huge political miscalculation”.
Despite previous promises not to call a snap election, following a meeting of the UK Cabinet, May announced this morning that she intends to call a general election on 8 June.
May accused opposition parties and the House of Lords of weakening her negotiating position on Brexit.
Underlining that the SNP plans to use the surprise election to reinforce its mandate for a second independence referendum, Sturgeon responded: “This announcement is one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history, and it shows that Theresa May is once again putting the interests of her party ahead of those of the country.
“She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.
“That makes it all the important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the UK further to the right – forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process.
“That means that 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.
“In terms of Scotland, this move is a huge political miscalculation by the Prime Minister.
“It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories’ narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future.”
Meanwhile the Greens called Theresa May “weak and opportunist”, while the Lib Dems have welcomed the announcement and Labour said it is “ready”.
Despite her previous lack of support for Jeremy Corbyn, Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale affirmed she will work “tirelessly” to elect him prime minister and said the country was facing a “significant and historic choice” as the UK leaves the EU.
She said: "At this election, the choice again will be clear: a Tory Party intent on a hard and damaging Brexit; or a Labour Party that will oppose a second independence referendum and fight for a better future for everybody.
"The Labour Party is ready and has been preparing for a general election. We will start the process of selecting our candidates this afternoon.
"We will work tirelessly to elect Jeremy Corbyn prime minister and deliver a Labour government."
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie MSP said the Liberal Democrats were “relishing” the prospect of the election, which would centre on keeping the UK in the single market.
He said: "It is a chance to change the direction of the whole of the UK.
“Our optimistic agenda is pro-UK, pro-EU and progressive. We stand with the majority opinion in this country.
“At this election we will stand proud for a United Kingdom within the European single market.
“We will avoid a disastrous hard Brexit and keep Britain united. Liberal Democrats are only party that can stop a Conservative majority across the UK.
“If people want a Britain that is open, tolerant and united, this is the chance.”
But Green co-convener Maggie Chapman said: "This is the sign of a weak and opportunist prime minister who, rather than trying to explain the damage she is doing, has resorted to this desperate tactic.
“There is only reason for Theresa May to hold an election now and it is that she knows that things are going to get worse as Brexit bites.
"She should be focusing on trying to undo some of the damage her approach to Brexit has done and enabling us in Scotland to have our voices heard.
“She has, instead, opted to compound her previous mistakes with this move. When the spotlight falls on her unyielding, racist and hate-filled politics, I am confident that this move will backfire."
The move was welcomed by Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson.
She said: "The Scottish Conservatives are ready for a campaign, we are organised, and we are optimistic about the prospect of increasing our number of seats.
"In Scotland, we will have a clear election message - only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will ensure we get the strong leadership we need to get the best Brexit deal for the whole country.
“And only a vote for the Scottish Conservatives will send a strong message that we oppose SNP's divisive plan for a second referendum.”
Because it is outside the standard five-year cycle of general elections laid down in the 2011 Fixed-term Parliament’s Act, Theresa May must get the backing of the two-thirds of Parliament in a vote to be able to call an election.
She is expected to get that when Parliament votes tomorrow, with Labour MPs predicted to back the vote for an election.
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