I’m joined here today by the SNP MPs who, for the past two years, have been the real and only effective opposition to the Conservatives in the House of Commons.
We are making clear today our intention to win this election in Scotland and for Scotland. Now, more than ever, Scotland needs strong voices.
Yesterday, it became clear beyond doubt that, for Theresa May, party comes before country. For months the Prime Minister has said that a snap, early election was, in her view, the last thing the country needed. Now was not the time, she said, to be distracted from the job at hand.
But yesterday, she changed her mind – not for the good of the country – but for simple party advantage. Her motive is clear. She knows that as the terms of her hard Brexit become clearer, the deep misgivings that so many people already have will increase and grow. So she wants to act now to crush the parliamentary opposition that she faces. Labour’s self-inflicted weakness has presented the excuse.
But the SNP has a very different plan.
Scotland’s voice will not be silenced.
We have seen the damage the Tories have done with no majority of their own and then with a small majority. We should be in no doubt what a strengthened Tory government would mean.
It would mean not just the hardest possible Brexit, but also further austerity and deeper cuts. It would mean damage to our public services and more pain for the vulnerable. And it would mean a rightwards shift in the governance of the UK that just a few years ago, UKIP could scarcely have dreamed of.
So the SNP in this election will – as we always do – stand up for Scotland.
A vote for the SNP is a vote to protect Scotland’s interests. Only the SNP stands between Scotland and an increasingly hard-line Tory government.
It is a vote to end austerity and for investment in our public services.
And it is a vote to ensure that the future of Scotland – the kind of country we are – will be decided, not at Westminster but in Scotland, by the Scottish people.
Make no mistake, if the SNP wins this election in Scotland – and the Tories don’t – then Theresa May’s attempt to block our mandate to hold another referendum when the time is right, will crumble to dust.
This is an election that has been called in the narrow party interests of the Tories. That’s why, though we won’t stand in its way, we will not endorse the Prime Minister’s opportunism.
But we intend to make sure that in this election, the interests of Scotland come first.