VOTERS in Scotland will have to choose between the SNP or the Tories, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon warned yesterday, describing Jeremy Corbyn’s chances of becoming Prime Minister as “pie in the sky”.

During a boisterous First Minister’s Questions dominated by the General Election, Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson accused Sturgeon of plotting to “put Jeremy Corbyn in No 10”

Davidson’s accusation echoed one made by Theresa May on Tuesday night when she told voters they had a choice between her “stable” government and a “coalition of chaos” formed of the opposition parties.

Loading article content

The First Minister rubbished the attack, calling it “pretty tired stuff”.

“We only have to take one look at the polls to know that Jeremy Corbyn ain’t going anywhere near No 10 Downing Street – on his own or with the help of anybody else,” she added.

Meanwhile, Labour leader Kezia Dugdale criticised the SNP decision to abstain in Wednesday’s Commons vote to unpick the Fixed-terms Parliaments Act that allowed the snap election to be called.

She said the SNP had failed to vote “with Labour to get rid of the Tory Government”.

“Labour members of Parliament voted ... to get rid of the miserable Tory Government,” Dugdale said. “Imagine my surprise when the SNP MPs did not do the same.

“It was not the SNP that voted with the Tories ... in the House of Commons,” Sturgeon replied. “It was Labour members who trooped through the lobby with the Tories. She knows the lobby I mean: it was the one that had “turkeys” and “Christmas” written above it. The idea that in this election Labour will replace the Tories is, frankly, pie in the sky.”

She added: “The issue and the threat at this election is that, due to Labour’s complete unelectability, we face an unfettered, out-of-control Tory Government. We know that the Prime Minister wants to silence opposition, so the question for Scotland is this: if people want a strong opposition to the Tories, if they want MPs who will stand up and be a voice for Scotland, then the only party to support at this election is this one, the SNP.”

LibDem leader Willie Rennie demanded that the First Minister explain her party’s position on Europe and asked if full membership of the European Union would be in the SNP manifesto.

“The SNP’s policy on Europe is absolutely clear” Sturgeon said. “We want Scotland to remain a member of the European Union. I do not think that anyone could have missed that over the past few months.”

She added: “It is interesting that Willie Rennie somehow tries to criticise me when I say that I want Scotland and the United Kingdom to remain in the EU but that it is important that we prioritise membership of the single market. It is interesting that he criticises me for that, because that is what Tim Farron, his own leader, says. He wants the UK to stay in the European single market—the priority is staying in the single market.”

Rennie said the LibDems “want Scotland in the heart of the United Kingdom, and the United Kingdom in the heart of Europe. The General Election is a chance to change the course of the whole United Kingdom. The more Liberal Democrat MPs that are elected, the greater the chance that we have of changing the direction of the country,” he said.

Davidson and May’s line was close to the key message of the Tory General Election campaign of 2015, when the party’s strategists convinced voters they had to choose between “stability and strong government” with David Cameron or “chaos with Ed Miliband”.

Despite the chaotic events of the last two years, the Tories have seemingly resurrected that line.

As in 2015, their party’s campaign is being directed by Lynton Crosby, an Australian political strategist.

Writing in today’s National in the first in a series of columns between now and June 8, former First Minister Alex Salmond labels Crosby as the “Wizard of Oz”, describes him as the “master of the darkest of political arts” and predicts he will be telling May to “take no risks whatsoever” despite the state of Labour.

He adds: “Theresa May is facing the weakest opposition in living memory. Still she is not satisfied. Total compliance with her way is required – or else. “