FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has accused Prime Minister Theresa May of calling a General Election because she feared criminality in the Tory Party would lose her MPs and control of Parliament.

Writing in The National, the Gordon MP says the Conservative leader likely knew she would lose by-elections if police charged her MPs with breaching strict spending rules, in the so-called Tory election fraud scandal.

To make sure she didn’t lose her majority, Salmond writes, the Prime Minister took advantage of Jeremy Corbyn, and called a General Election.

Currently, the Crown Prosecution Service are looking at files from 14 police forces over the allegations relating to the 2015 General Election. Channel 4 News, who uncovered the claims, reported on Tuesday evening that the CPS is considering prosecution against over 30 individuals.

Most of the allegations centre around hotel bills for party staff, and the Battlebus, where activists and campaigners were taken to key seats to campaign. This was noted as national rather than local spending.

If it had been recorded locally then it would have meant many local Tory associations had burst the strict limits on election spending.

If the CPS decide there is a case to answer, it would lead to prosecutions, which under normal circumstances, would likely have led to by-elections.

Earlier this year, Tory chief General Election strategist Lynton Crosby had carried out polling in constituencies caught up in the affair over breaking strict spending rules.

Salmond suggests the survey by Crosby predicted those by-elections would have led to defeats for the Tories, badly damaging the Prime Minister’s Commons majority of 17.

“If the Tories believe that they were faced with a genuine risk of by-elections which would erode their narrow majority then a General Election becomes significantly more attractive,” the ex-SNP leader writes. “To lose a few MPs in the next parliament with a predicted majority of 100 plus is careless. To lose them with the current parliamentary majority of 17 is catastrophic.”

He adds: “Whether or not the English judicial system actually has the sort of integrity and calibre which would risk depriving the Government of a majority to enforce the rule of law is a moot point. The only thing that matters is that the Tory high command saw it as a real risk and certainly their recent experience with the Supreme Court judges on Brexit would not give them any confidence that it was safe to leave matters in the hands of the courts.”

Salmond also claims the Prime Minister knows “the full extent of the Tory problems” as her Chief of Staff, Nick Timothy, was involved in one of the constituencies being investigated.

The CPS are expected to make a decision by late May or early June, which now means any charges will come during General Election campaign period.

Salmond says the reason May has been able to get away with this, is because Corbyn failed to question the legitimacy of the Tory government and the call for an election.

The only risk to May’s gambit of calling a General Election, he writes, “was that the opposition leader wouldn’t be daft enough to fall for the gambit and then leave the Prime Minister hanging high, dry and without a majority.

“However, Jeremy Corbyn faithfully, fatefully and unwittingly played the role of the sap and now we are faced with the prospect that the Tories did not just buy one election by cheating on expenses in the south of England. They could have bought two.”

Responding to Salmond’s allegations, a Conservative Party spokesman said: “CCHQ has always taken the view that its nationally directed battlebus campaign – a highly-publicised and visible activity with national branding – was part of its national return, and it would have no reason not to declare it as such, given that the party was £2 million below the national spending threshold.

“The Electoral Commission report makes clear that our interpretation of the guidance was correct, stating: ‘The Commission has found no evidence to suggest that the Party had funded the Battlebus2015 campaign with the intention that it would promote or procure the electoral success of candidates’ (para. 106).

“MPs in constituencies visited by the battlebus would have no reason to consider whether it should be included in their local return – they were directed that the bus would be visiting as part of CCHQ’s national spending.

“The ongoing investigations relate to national spending by CCHQ and the national Party will continue to co-operate with the police and other authorities so that the matter can be resolved as soon as possible.”

A Scottish Labour Spokesperson said: “Alex Salmond’s mask slipped this week. He had a chance to vote to bring down this hated Tory government, yet he abstained in the Commons vote.

“The people of Gordon won’t forget that dereliction of duty. They also won’t forget his broken vow in 2015 that the SNP would lock the Tories out. And they certainly won’t forget Alex Salmond’s broken vow that would respect the result of the independence referendum for a generation.

“Voters will see through Salmond’s bluster at this election. The only way to get rid of this Tory government is to vote Labour.”