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  1. ITV Report

Nicola Sturgeon launches SNP manifesto: 'A vote to put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands'

  • Video report by ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith

Scottish first minister and SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon warned “there is worse to come” if the Tories win the General Election at the launch of the party’s manifesto in Glasgow.

She accused the "Westminster parties" of delivering "constant chaos" since the 2014 Scottish independence referendum.

She added promises that Scotland would be treated as an equal partner in the UK have been broken.

"The reality of Westminster control over Scotland is this," she said.

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"A right wing Tory government Scotland did not vote for a prime minister in Boris Johnson who is dangerous and unfit for office," she said.

"Tory cuts to the Scottish budget, our NHS under threat from a Tory-Trump trade deal, a power grab on the Scottish Parliament, children forced into poverty and a disastrous Brexit deal that will hit jobs, living standards and worker's rights."

She then warned Brexit is "nowhere near being done" and said there is "every chance" the UK could leave the European Union without a deal."

Ms Sturgeon added that, if the Prime Minister gets the deal he wants before the December 2020 deadline, it will "be a nightmare".

Brexit

Ms Sturgeon said her party pledged a second referendum on Brexit while attacking the Labour leader's plans for a neutral stance.

She accused Jeremy Corbyn of being "neutral on job losses" and repeated her promise that a vote for her party is a vote to escape Brexit.

She said: "The SNP, Scotland's Remain party, backs a new, UK-wide referendum on EU membership.

"Jeremy Corbyn, incredibly, says that he is neutral on the issue of Leave or Remain.

"That means he is neutral on job losses, cuts to living standards and the erosion of our rights.

"And, of course, he would be happy to sit back and see Scotland taken out of the EU, even if there is a majority for Remain in Scotland but not in the UK."

The First Minister reiterated her assertion that Brexit will "dominate" Westminster in the coming years, adding that "Scotland will pay a heavy price for the Tory's Brexit obsession and Labour's neutrality, or to give it its proper description, Labour's woeful lack of leadership."

She said Scotland's future is at stake in this election, asking Scottish voters to consider who should decide the future of Scotland: "The people of Scotland? Or Boris Johnson".

NHS

Any UK government that wants SNP’s support must reverse budget cuts and invest more in the NHS, Ms Sturgeon said.

The SNP leader told crowds in Glasgow she will push the next government to bring NHS spending into line with per-head funding in Scotland.

The extra funding would boost Scotland's budget for the NHS by £4 billion by the end of the parliamentary term, she claimed.

She said: "The Tories, and let us never forget they did this with the help of the Liberal Democrats, have left the Scottish budget £1.5 billion lower in real terms than it was at the start of the decade.

"A potential UK government that wants our support must reverse that cut to our budget and ensure real-terms growth thereafter.

"The UK must make right the cuts that Scotland has suffered. Over a decade of austerity the cumulative price imposed on Scotland has been £13.9 billion... and of course the cost in human terms has been worse. That must be made right.

"A party seeking our support must be prepared to set out how they will repair the damage of a decade of austerity and put back the money that's been lost."

SNP MPs in Westminster will also push for legislation to protect the NHS from future trade deals, the First Minister added.

Ms Sturgeon told the crowd her party would "stop the Tories from selling off Scotland's health service".

Drugs

In addition, SNP MPs at Westminster would push for more powers to be devolved to Holyrood.

Speaking after the manifesto launch, Ms Sturgeon defended drugs policy in Scotland after a cross party committee in Westminster, chaired by an SNP MP, said that it was the First Minister's cuts to addiction services that had made the issue of drug deaths in Scotland worse.

Deaths linked to drugs in Scotland are three-times the UK average and the highest in the EU.

However, Ms Sturgeon told ITV News Scotland Correspondent Peter Smith that her party has "increased spending on drug treatment services" and that they were "putting in extra investment, we are working with alcohol and drug partnerships across the country to address the issues of demand, we are looking at a whole range of actions that we can take".

She added that it is because drugs policy is decided on in Westminster, rather than a devolved issue, that consumption rooms in Glasgow could not be set up.

Cooperation

The SNP could be open to forming a "progressive alliance" with other parties following the election, Ms Sturgeon said.

She said: "There is every chance that the SNP could hold the balance of power at Westminster.

"Unlike the Liberal Democrats, the SNP will never, ever help the Tories into government, but we will be prepared to talk to other parties about forming a progressive alliance.

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"Those parties, of course, are already looking to the SNP and Scotland for inspiration."

The First Minister said policies proposed by other parties have already been instituted in Scotland, including free university tuition, NHS protection and free prescriptions.

Ms Sturgeon also attacked the Tories for providing extra funding for the DUP in 2017, and refusing a cash boost for Scotland.

She said: "Remember when the Tory government last needed a handful of votes from the DUP, they bypassed the Barnett Formula to find money for Northern Ireland.

"In the process they denied Scotland around £3 billion of investment. "We say enough. It is time for Scotland to be treated fairly."

Climate change

On climate change, Ms Sturgeon said Scotland has the most "ambitious" targets in the world, adding the SNP will push Westminster to match the Scottish Government's legislation.

The First Minister said her party will propose a "green energy deal" to ensure eco-friendly initiatives have long-term security.

Ms Sturgeon also said the bulk of future oil and gas receipts should be put into a "net-zero fund", focusing on measures to battle climate change.

The SNP leader added the industry "cannot be left behind" in the transition from fossil fuels, and proposed that 12% of the fund should be used to help to diversify places like Aberdeen and Falkirk.

  • Catch up on Nicola Sturgeon's full speech as she launched the SNP's manifesto