THE First Minister has accused Downing Street of showing “contempt” for the Scottish people over the choice of date for the next General Election.

Rishi Sunak announced the snap election will be held on July 4, which will be in the first week of the school summer holidays in Scotland.

Speaking after Sunak's announcement, John Swinney set his sights firmly on the Prime Minister’s party rather than Labour, despite polls suggesting they are the SNP’s closest rival in Scotland.

Posting on Twitter/X, Swinney said: “I look forward to leading @theSNP in this election.

“This is the moment to remove the Tory Govt and put Scotland First by voting SNP.

“People in Scotland know we stand up for them and protect them from the damage done by Westminster.”

Speaking to journalists at Holyrood on Wednesday, the First Minister added that the 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 also accused Downing Street of “contempt” for the Scottish people, with SNP Westminster leader Stephen Flynn also hitting out at the timing – saying it is "deeply concerning that Scotland’s school holidays have been an afterthought to Westminster".

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.

The National: Scottish Green co-leader Lorna Slater spoke to The National about the future of her party

“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.”

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

The National: File photo dated 14/01/23 of Alba party leader Alex Salmond, who has claimed the SNP's "incompetence" in government has "hindered" the cause of Scottish independence. Mr Salmond also said there is no way "immediately"

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.”