John Swinney: Election is opportunity to kick out 'discredited' Tories

SNP leader said he is 'delighted' to lead his party into the summer vote.

The UK general election this summer will be an opportunity to “remove” the Tories from Government, Scotland’s First Minister has said.

John Swinney welcomed Rishi Sunak’s announcement on Wednesday that the ballot will be held on July 4.

The SNP leader, who only succeeded Yousaf earlier this month, said he was “delighted” to lead his party into the vote.

Polls suggest the SNP could lose seats to Labour in Scotland, while the Tories may also lose seats to Keir Starmer’s party in England.

Opposition parties react to election news

“I’m delighted to be fighting an election,” Swinney told journalists.

“I’m fresh into the party leadership.

“We are clearly seeing the benefits of having fresh leadership in the SNP and we’ve got a clear message.

“And our message is this: we have an opportunity now to get rid of a discredited Conservative government and put Scotland first.”

The First Minister said his party was in a “really good state” to fight the election because it has “strong, popular leadership”, adding that “Scotland is protected by the SNP”.

He accused Downing Street of “contempt” for the Scottish people over the date of the election, which will be in the first week of the school summer holidays north of the border.

The leader of the Scottish Tories said his party is ready to “take the fight to the SNP” and beat them in “key seats up and down Scotland”.

“This election in Scotland is a huge opportunity to defeat the SNP and put an end to their obsession with independence for good,” said Douglas Ross.

“If voters unite in the many seats where it’s a straight fight between the Scottish Conservatives and the SNP, we can get rid of nationalist MPs who have never focused on the things that really matter.

“In key seats up and down Scotland, only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP and get all of the attention on to voters’ top priorities, such as creating good jobs, reducing NHS waiting lists and investing in schools.”

Rishi Sunak announced the general election in the pouring rain outside Downing Street.Getty Images

Meanwhile, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said the people of the UK are “desperate for change”.

“After 14 years of Tory chaos and failure, this is an opportunity that we cannot afford to miss,” he said.

“Scotland is crying out for change and that change is only possible with a Labour government led by Keir Starmer that is on the side of working people.

“Voting Scottish Labour means booting out this rotten Tory Government, maximising Scotland’s influence with Scottish Labour MPs in government and delivering the change that Scotland needs.

“It’s time for change and Labour is ready to deliver it.”

The Scottish Greens – who until last month were the SNP’s Government partners – said they are prepared to stand a record number of candidates in the election.

“Scottish Greens are ready to go, we will be standing more candidates than ever before on July 4. With Scottish Greens in the room, people can be sure climate justice and social justice will always be on the table,” said co-leader Lorna Slater.

“A strong Scottish Green vote in this election could be transformational, so everybody needs to get out and vote for people and for planet.

“This is the last chance to save our nature and climate from the Tories, to put an end to their planet-wrecking policies, and to protect future generations from the harm being inflicted upon them.”

She urged people to ensure they are registered to vote and have valid ID to ensure they are not turned away as part of new laws brought in by the UK Government.

Scottish Lib Dem leader Alex Cole-Hamilton accused the Tories and the SNP of having “taken people for granted and made a mess of our country for too long”.

“People have had enough, it’s time for change and Scottish Liberal Democrats are here for it,” he said.

“Scottish Liberal Democrats want to bring people back together, putting Scotland at the heart of a reformed UK and fixing our broken relationship with Europe.”

Alba Party leader and former first minister Alex Salmond urged voters to use the General Election to seek independence.

He said: “The 4th of July is celebrated in the USA as their Independence Day, but if we make the General Election about independence then in Scotland it may no longer be known as an American holiday, but as the day Scotland declared to the world that we will not accept a Westminster veto over our right to self-determination and that we have voted for Scotland to be an independent country.

“Alba Party are now the natural home for independence supporters. If we work hard then Alba can make a big impact for independence in the coming election.”

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