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Nicola Sturgeon has denounced Theresa May’s call for a June general election as a “huge political miscalculation” that will reinforce her Scottish National party’s mandate for a referendum on leaving the UK.
The first minister and SNP leader moved quickly to frame the election north of the English border as a battle against extended UK Conservative rule.
“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,” Ms Sturgeon said in a statement.
The election was an effort to further Tory interests by “grabbing control of government for many years to come” and moving the UK further to the right with a hard Brexit, the first minister said.
She made no direct mention of her call for a second independence referendum to be held by spring 2019, but made clear that she expected the election to increase pressure on Mrs May to rethink her rejection of such a plebiscite.
“In terms of Scotland, this move is a huge political miscalculation by the prime minister,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“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.”
However, Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the party is “optimistic” about increasing the number of seats it holds in Westminster from the single victory achieved in 2015.
Only a vote for the Tories would send a strong message of opposition to the Scottish National party’s “divisive plan” for a second referendum on indepencence from the UK, Ms Davidson said in a statement.
“We know the SNP will use this campaign to try and manufacture a case for separation,” she added.
The choice is simple: it’s between a strong government led by Theresa May working to get the best Brexit deal, or a weak Labour government, led by Jeremy Corbyn, which cannot stand up to the SNP.