The First Minister also said she would be willing to work with others to keep the Tories out of Downing Street, though admitted that, mathematically, it looked fairly unlikely Jeremy Corbyn would manage to get enough support for that to be a possibility.
But Corbyn later ruled out a “progressive alliance” with the SNP, insisting that Labour can win on their own, despite the latest polls showing Theresa May romping home to victory with a 100-plus-seat majority.
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Tories, LibDems and the majority of Labour MPs all backed the June 8 poll, but 54 of the SNP’s MPs abstained, with Michelle Thompson and Natalie McGarry voted against.
Those two politicians have both resigned the SNP whip, and are, effectively, suspended from the party while the Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal’s Service consider respective police cases involving both. Because Thomson and McGarry are no longer in the SNP they will not be eligible for selection and look set to lose their seats.
Speaking at the beginning of the debate, May told MPs the early election would be an opportunity to “put our fate in the hands of the people and let the people decide”. She had earlier said Corbyn was not “fit to lead” the country, because he couldn’t even lead his party.
The early election was, she said, in “Britain’s national interest”.
“A General Election is the best way to strengthen Britain’s hand in the negotiations ahead,” May told MPs. “Securing the right deal for Britain is my priority and I am confident that we have the plan to do it.”
SNP MP Ian Blackford asked why if now was the right time for a General Election, why it then wasn’t the right time for an independence referendum.
“Now is the time for a general election because it will strengthen our hand in the negotiations on Brexit,” the Prime Minister answered, adding: “Now is not the time for a second Scottish independence referendum because it would weaken our hand in the negotiations on Brexit.”
Corbyn said the vote would be an opportunity for the UK to judge the Tories on their record in office. He added that it was “extremely interesting” May had chosen to call an election as the Crown Prosecution Service was deciding if they would press charges against any of the 30 or so people connected with the Tory expenses fraud scandal, where the party lodged false and inaccurate expense claims with the Electoral Commission.
Glasgow MP Stewart McDonald asked the Prime Minister: “Does it not take some brass neck to call a General Election when you are facing allegations of buying the last one?”
She replied saying the question was “not worthy” of McDonald.
The First Minister, who was in London to open “Scotland House,” a government hub to help “ambitious Scottish companies take advantage of business opportunities in London and internationally,” also met with Westminster colleagues and spoke to reporters outside the Commons.
Sturgeon said an SNP win in the election in Scotland would mean the Tories could no longer stymie an independence referendum.
“Theresa May’s attempt to block our mandate to give the people of Scotland a choice over their own future when the time is right will crumble to dust,” the SNP leader said.
One of the Tories’ most effective campaigning strategies in 2015 was to put in the minds of English voters the idea Ed Miliband would be in the pocket of the SNP, and Labour forced to do whatever his bosses north of the Border wanted. Lynton Crosby, the Australian political adviser who created that masterplan, is back working for the Tories. The one message the Prime Minister repeated again and again in her many speeches yesterday was that she offered “strong and stable leadership” compared to the “unstable coalition of chaos” of Labour and the SNP.
When Sturgeon was asked about working with Labour, she too repeated her argument from the previous General Election: “If the parliamentary arithmetic lent itself to the SNP being part of a progressive alliance to keep the Tories out of government, then the SNP would seek to be part of that.”
However, she added, that this was even less likely in 2017 than it had been two years ago.
“I’m not sure there are many people who think Labour are going to be in any position, on their own or with anyone else, to form a government,” she added.
Corbyn met with Scottish Labour leader Kezia Dugdale at the party’s emergency NEC meeting in London yesterday afternoon. He confirmed afterwards that there would be “no coalition deal with the SNP and a Labour government.”
Dugdale said there was already “a progressive alliance in the UK: it’s called the Labour Party.”
Though that progressive alliance became a little less alliance-y, with another three Labour MPs announcing that they won’t stand.
John Woodcock, the MP for Farrow and Burness, who is seeking reselection, used a video to tell constituents: “I will not countenance ever voting to make Jeremy Corbyn Britain’s prime minister.
“I can’t countenance endorsing him for a role which I think even he, though he may say differently in front of the cameras, does not think he is fit to carry out.”
Sitting Labour MPs must declare if they’re standing again by 6pm today.