FORMER First Minister Alex Salmond has vowed to fight off a Tory challenge for his Gordon seat at next month’s General Election.

Launching his campaign to be re-elected as an MP, Salmond yesterday warned the Tories not to make “presumptuous announcements”.

In a speech to activists and campaigners in Ellon, Salmond said he was “well up for the battle ahead.”

Tories said at the weekend that they hoped to humiliate the SNP by defeating a number of their leading MPs, including Salmond.

Ruth Davidson was campaigning in the former First Minister’s patch on Saturday, after last week's local elections left the Conservatives as the largest group on Aberdeenshire council.

A Tory source told a newspaper: “Alex Salmond can’t take anything for granted in this election. We are parking our tanks on Alex Salmond’s lawn.”

Launching his campaign to be re-elected, Salmond said: “I stand for re-election on my record, on the need to provide real opposition to the Tory government and to protect our own Scottish Parliament as the place to decide Scotland’s future.

Afterwards, the ex-SNP leader said: “I’ve never taken any election battle for granted, I’ve represented the north-east of Scotland for 30 years and every election the Tories tell me they are going to beat me and every time they fall short.

“Also in the north-east of Scotland it’s not the greatest thing to boast you’re going to win beforehand, the folk here tend to bring them back down to earth with a bump “And that I think will happen to the Tories. Boasting before an election is an extremely foolish thing to do.

"The people have their say at the ballot box and I think the north-east of Scotland has a way of bringing people who make vainglorious boasts down to earth with a sharp bump.”

Salmond said that after his campaign launch he would be “hitting the doorsteps, pounding the pavements, getting stuck in”.

He criticised Theresa May for her decision to call a snap election – something the Prime Minister had previously vowed not to do “I think most people would have said that was a bad decision for the Prime Minister to break her word on the election, but as my dad always says you play the ball as it lies, and where the ball lies is we’re fighting an election campaign and we intend to fight it and to win it.”

He also criticised May’s “controlled” style of campaigning “The lack of television debates, the refusal of the Tory Party to debate, the refusal to meet ordinary people during the campaign – people don’t like that style of controlled politics, it’s deeply cynical,” he said.

He insisted he was standing on a “positive record of achievement” – highlighting projects such as the construction of a new city bypass for Aberdeen.

The Tory candidate in Gordon is Colin Clark, who stood in 2015. In that election he won 6,807 votes while Salmond achieved 27,717.