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Wednesday 31st
posted by Zoe Streatfield in Britain

NICOLA STURGEON declared that “only the SNP is strong enough to keep the Tories in check” as she unveiled her party’s general election manifesto yesterday.

Speaking at the launch in Perth, the SNP leader revealed her party’s plans to protect the triple lock on pensions, free up an extra £118 billion to invest in public services and review the 1 per cent public-sector pay cap.

She also said her party’s MPs would support the 50p tax rate for those earning £150,000 or more, despite voting against the proposal in the Scottish Parliament.

Speaking ahead of the launch, Ms Sturgeon accused Labour of being “in disarray.”

“While the polls have narrowed, the Tories are still on course to win the election,” she said.

“Labour proved beyond any doubt that they were unable to provide the opposition needed to keep the Tories in check in the last parliament.”

Ms Sturgeon added that returning a large number of SNP MPs would “strengthen the country’s hand when it comes to opposing cuts, defending our place in Europe and on choosing our future as a nation.”

Winning a large majority of seats would also create a “triple lock” which would all but guarantee a second independence referendum, as it would be “democratically unsustainable” for Theresa May to continue to block it, Ms Sturgeon argued.

However Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale challenged her counterpart, pointing out that the SNP has subjected Scots to ruthless Tory cuts.

“Nicola Sturgeon can talk about opposing austerity all she likes, but the reality is that the SNP has cut £1.5bn from local services like schools and care of the elderly.

“She can talk about protecting the NHS all she likes, but health services have been cut, patients have been failed and staff are underpaid.”

Ms Dugdale added that the SNP’s manifesto revealed its “number one priority” was another “divisive” independence referendum at a time when “standards in our schools have fallen and NHS services face closure.”

The Scottish Labour leader has previously condemned the SNP’s bid for a second referendum as a “distraction” from its failing record, which has seen NHS shortages exacerbated and local councils struggling to provide services.