NEWS
23/05/2017 00:01 BST | Updated 23/05/2017 19:44 BST

Plan To End Austerity At Heart Of SNP Manifesto, Nicola Sturgeon Says

Nicola Sturgeon will outline a plan to "end austerity" as she unveils the SNP's General Election manifesto.

Scotland's First Minister said SNP MPs would use the "responsible" proposals to argue for more investment for public services and the reversal of welfare cuts.

Speaking ahead of the manifesto launch in Edinburgh, the SNP leader said her party's MPs had "shaken up the Westminster establishment" by providing "the only effective opposition to the Tories".

On issues ranging from cuts to tax credits and women's pensions to the "appalling" so-called rape clause, the SNP had "led the way in standing up for a fairer society", she said.

"A vote for the SNP in this election will strengthen Scotland's hand against further Tory cuts and ensure that progressive polices, like those pursued by the SNP government in Scotland, are firmly on the agenda at Westminster," Ms Sturgeon said.

"At the heart of our plans is a responsible fiscal plan to end austerity and free up resources to invest in public services, protect family budgets and call a halt to cuts in social-security support for working families and the disabled.

"A vote for the SNP will also strengthen Scotland's hand against an extreme Brexit that will put tens of thousands of Scottish jobs at risk."

Ms Sturgeon said a vote for her party would also "strengthen Scotland's right to choose our own future".

She added: "This election won't decide whether or not Scotland will become independent - but a vote for the SNP will reinforce the right of the Scottish Parliament to decide when the nation should be given a choice on its future, and will make sure that Scotland's future is always in Scotland's hands.

"Labour can't win this election in Scotland and a vote for them will risk letting Tory MPs in the back door - while the Lib Dems, with their history of propping up the Tories, simply cannot be trusted.

"Now, more than ever, it is vital to have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland and preventing the dangers of an unopposed Tory government at Westminster."

Pledges in the SNP manifesto will include protecting Scotland's place in the European single market, demanding full control over immigration is devolved to Holyrood and repealing the Trade Union act.

The party also plans to ban zero-hours contracts, stop businesses involved in blacklisting from bidding for public contracts and abolish fees for employment tribunals.

Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale said: "No one believes Nicola Sturgeon on austerity any more. She has the powers to ask the richest to pay their fair share and instead has frozen taxes for the richest while passing on Tory cuts to the poorest.

"Whatever Nicola Sturgeon promises during the election you can be sure she'll do the opposite afterwards.

"In 2015 the SNP supported a 50p top rate of income tax, then joined forces with the Tories to vote down such a proposal in the Scottish Parliament.

"Rather than acting as a brake on Tory cuts, Nicola Sturgeon has accelerated them with £1.5 billion cut from schools and local services since 2011.

"This election isn't about ending austerity for Nicola Sturgeon, it's about building the case for a second independence referendum that the majority of Scots don't want."