SNP vote ‘will send clear message on indyref2’ says Sturgeon

Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has branded the PM Boris Johnson ‘dangerous’

By Bill Heaney and BBC Scotland reporters

Nicola Sturgeon has launched the SNP election manifesto with a pledge to “escape Brexit and put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands”.

The manifesto says that the SNP winning the most seats in Scotland would send a “clear” message that an independence referendum must be held next year.

Ms Sturgeon said the country faced a “fundamental question” over who should decide its future.

And she called for a big increase in NHS funding across the UK.

The SNP won 35 seats at the last general election in 2017, making it the third biggest party in the UK Parliament, and it hopes to hold the balance of power if there is a hung parliament after the forthcoming election.

Ms Sturgeon says she is open to forming a “progressive alliance” with other parties after the election, but has ruled out doing a deal with the Conservatives or entering into a formal coalition with Labour.

Ms Sturgeon accused the main Westminster parties of delivering “constant chaos” since the 2014 independence referendum, which saw Scottish voters choose to remain in the UK by 55% to 45%.

And she claimed that Prime Minister Boris Johnson was “dangerous and unfit for office” and that his proposed Brexit deal would be a “nightmare” for Scotland.

She told the manifesto launch event in Glasgow: “A vote for the SNP is a vote to escape Brexit, It is a vote to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, and it is a vote to deprive Boris Johnson’s Conservative Party of a majority.

“The reality of Westminster control over Scotland is this: a right-wing Tory government Scotland didn’t vote for and a prime minister in Boris Johnson who is dangerous and unfit for office.”

Mr Johnson has already ruled out granting the formal consent that Ms Sturgeon, the Scottish first minister, says would be needed to ensure any independence referendum was legal.

Mitchell JA with J CorbynJeremy Corbyn, pictured here with Jean Anne Mitchell, the Labour candidate in West Dunbartonshire,  has said he would oppose a referendum in the first two years of a Labour government – but the party says it would not oppose one if there is a pro-independence majority after the next Scottish Parliament election in 2021.

But Ms Sturgeon said the decision on if and when a referendum is held should be one for the “people of Scotland and the Scottish Parliament”.

She added: “The democratically-elected Scottish Parliament has agreed the people should be given a choice over their future. An unelected Tory Westminster government has no right to overturn that decision.

“So an SNP victory in this election would be a clear instruction from the people of Scotland to respect Scottish democracy.  There must be no Westminster veto over the right of the people of Scotland to decide their own future.

Boris at Base 1.jpg 2

Boris Johnson, pictured here at the Clyde Naval Base,  has given a “cast iron guarantee” that he would reject any request for consent to hold indyref2 if he wins the election

And despite Mr Johnson’s campaign pledge to “get Brexit done”, Ms Sturgeon warned it was “nowhere near done” and predicted that Brexit would dominate Westminster politics for years to come.

She said: “The Tories have barely got going – they haven’t even started trade talks. Because of Johnson’s hard line position, there is every chance the UK will leave without a trade deal next year. That would be a catastrophe for jobs.

“And even if he somehow avoids that, his dream deal will be a nightmare for Scotland.

“It will take Scotland out of the single market – which is eight times the size of the UK alone – and out of the Customs Union, the world’s biggest trading block.”

The SNP are not pretending that there is any chance they could form a government in Westminster, no matter how many seats they win.

So, Nicola Sturgeon admits these manifesto pledges can only be met if this election produces a hung parliament, if Labour are the largest party, if the SNP hold the balance of power, and if they can agree a deal with Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Sturgeon has already ruled out a formal coalition with Labour, saying she favours a “progressive alliance” with like-minded parties.

In those circumstances the most important ask for Nicola Sturgeon is getting Mr Corbyn to agree to a second independence referendum. Without that, any kind of deal would be unthinkable.

Ms Sturgeon also unveiled further details of the demands the SNP would make in return for supporting Labour if there is a hung parliament.

The party says that central to this will be proposals to significantly increase funding for the NHS across the UK – with the SNP saying it is proposing more substantial funding increases than any other major party in the election.

The SNP will demand that the next UK government raises per-head health spending south of the border to levels seen in Scotland.

The party says spending is currently £136 per head higher north of the border, and that such a move would see NHS resource funding in England increase by more than £35bn between 2019/20 and 2023/24.

This would also mean an additional £4bn in Barnett consequential for the Scottish NHS.

What are the other parties pledging on Scottish independence, Brexit and Trident?

HMS Talent enters HMNB Clyde

Brexit: The Conservatives say they will deliver Brexit by the end of January 2020 under the terms of the PM’s deal negotiated with the EU.

The Liberal Democrats have vowed to cancel Brexit if elected as a majority government, or otherwise campaign for a referendum including the option of staying in the EU.

Labour wants to renegotiate the PM’s Brexit deal then put it to a referendum within six months, with the option of staying in the EU. The party has not said which side it would take in such a vote.

Trident: The Conservatives say they will maintain the Trident nuclear deterrent.

The Liberal Democrats support maintaining a minimum nuclear deterrent with leader Jo Swinson making clear she would be prepared to deploy Trident if she was prime minister.

Labour supports the renewal of the Trident nuclear deterrent but also said it would lead multilateral efforts to achieve a nuclear-free world under the non-proliferation treaty.

Scottish independence: Labour opposes Scottish independence but has said a Labour-run UK government would agree to another referendum if pro-yes parties win a majority at the next Holyrood election in 2021.

The Conservatives are opposed to a second independence referendum with Boris Johnson claiming he could “guarantee” there will not be a second vote if the Conservatives win the general election.

The Liberal Democrats say they oppose a second independence referendum and oppose independence.

Election 2019: SNP manifesto at-a-glance

West Dunbartonshire SNP candidate Martin Docherty Hughes and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon are hoping the policies outlined below will see them returned at the polls.

The SNP has unveiled its vision for Scotland ahead of the 12 December general election. Below are the main policies from the party’s 2019 manifesto.

Key points:

  • Before the end of the year the SNP-run Scottish government will ask the newly formed UK government for the powers to hold a legally binding second independence referendum
  • Support a second EU referendum with the “remain” option on the ballot paper
  • Call on the UK government to match Scottish per capita health spending to increase the amount spent on the NHS in Scotland
  • Halt the universal credit welfare changes and put an immediate end to the benefits freeze
  • Call for the devolution of drug policy
  • Oppose any increase to the state pension age and protect the “triple lock” method of increasing the welfare payment
  • Call for the devolution of employment law
  • Increase shared parental leave from 52 to 64 weeks, with the additional 12 weeks to be the minimum taken by the father
  • Build a cross-party coalition to scrap Trident as quickly and as safely as possible
  • Seek the devolution of immigration powers

Have a look at the manifesto in full.

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Brexit and the constitution

The manifesto pledges to:

  • Seek the transfer of powers from Westminster to allow a second legally-binding independence referendum, which the SNP wants to take place in 2020
  • Support a referendum with a “remain” option on the ballot paper to allow Brexit to be stopped for the whole of the UK
  • In the event of a no deal Brexit, support the revocation the formal legal process for the UK leaving the EU known as Article 50
  • Back giving 16 and 17-year-olds a vote in all elections

The economy and workplace

  • Devolve control of National Insurance (NI) to Scotland but in the meantime back a reduction in employers NI contributions to help firms with the cost of creating new jobs
  • Oppose any increases in VAT
  • Press for the statutory living wage to rise to at least the level of the real living wage
  • Introduce fines for businesses that fail to meet an agreed standard in equal pay
  • Campaign for increased spending by the UK government on the city and region deals for Scotland
  • Increase maternity leave to one year and set maternity pay at 100% of average weekly earnings for the first 12 weeks, then 90% for 40 weeks or £150.00, whichever is lower
  • Increase shared parental leave from 52 to 64 weeks, with the additional 12 weeks to be the minimum taken by the father
  • Continue to seek devolution of migration powers and, in the meantime, press for the creation of an additional route for migration to Scotland, alongside UK routes, by the means of a Scottish Visa
  • Demand that any future UK government pas

    Public services

    NHS logoA new National Health Service Protection Act, guaranteeing that any post-Brexit trade deals do not undermine the founding principles of the NHS

  • Call for an increase in health spending in England which would result in an uplift to the amount of money available for the NHS budget in Scotland
  • Call for the Scottish parliament to take charge of drug policy and, pending that devolution, call on the UK government to introduce a supervised drug consumption facility
  • Demand the TV licence fee should be set independently of the UK government and press for the UK government to take responsibility for the cost of licence fees for the over 75s
  • Oppose any rise in the pensions age, demand the end of the two-child benefit cap and a halt to universal credit

Energy and the environment

  • Press for the introduction of an Ofgem database of people who have not switched suppliers alongside a national free switching service to help them do so
  • Demand the UK accelerates its action to tackle climate change and introduce tougher targets
  • Call for a reduction in VAT on energy efficiency improvements in homes
  • Work towards a target of planting 60m trees annually in the UK by 2025, with 30m of these in Scotland
  • Ensuring that, from 2024, all new homes must use renewable or low carbon heat

Defence and international relations

  • Call on the UK to immediately withdraw from the Chagos Islands
  • Build a cross-party coalition to scrap Trident as quickly and as safely as possible
  • Call on the UK government to carry out a new defence review
  • Fight for the delivery of all contracts for Royal Navy fleet solid support ships to be restricted to UK shipyards
  • Press the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to use vacant MoD homes to house homeless ex-service personnel

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