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Sturgeon: SNP MPs will stop PM from having ‘free hand to do whatever she wants’

Scotland’s First Minister said the SNP would provide a check on Conservative power at Westminster.

SNP MPs in the House of Commons will provide “strong opposition” to Theresa May and could stop the Prime Minister from having a “free hand to do whatever she wants” in government, Nicola Sturgeon has insisted.

The Scottish First Minister said nationalist MPs at Westminster would instead champion “progressive policies” for the country.

She spoke out as she joined her predecessor Alex Salmond on the campaign trail in Aberdeenshire.

However Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said she was only in the area because she fears the SNP’s “neglect of the north-east will come back to bite her” in the June 8 General Election.

Ms Sturgeon and Mr Salmond visited a nursery in Insch, with the SNP leader saying they were “highlighting the SNP’s policy to almost double state-funded childcare provision, helping young people get the best start in life and helping working families”.

The First Minister added: “That stands in stark contrast to the Conservatives, who are taking child tax credits and working tax credits away from many working families, making their lives harder.”

She continued: “We know Theresa May wants a free hand to do whatever she wants.

“We’ve got to make sure that there’s a check on the Tories, that there’s strong opposition and strong voices for Scotland standing up for progressive policies like this one, and that in Scotland can only come from the SNP.”

The Scottish Government currently provides 16 hours a week of free childcare for three- and four-years-olds and vulnerable two-years-olds, and has pledged to increase this to 30 hours by 2020.

The nursery visit comes after the Prime Minister visited the north-east at the weekend and issued an appeal to Scots who oppose independence to stand up “against the separatists who want to break up our country”.

But Ms Sturgeon said the Tories should “watch their language”, as she accused Labour of focusing on independence due to a lack of positive policies after former chancellor Alistair Darling called on the SNP to rule out a second independence referendum while campaigning in Edinburgh.

She said: “It’s fine to have a robust debate, that’s what democracy and elections are all about, but using language that paints the SNP as something everybody knows we’re not, I think, is irresponsible.”

But Mr Rennie accused the SNP in government of having treated the north-east of Scotland “like a cash cow”, adding: “Nicola Sturgeon cannot escape the fact that the SNP’s actions have directly left areas like Aberdeen short changed.

He added: “Clearly the First Minister is spooked by the upcoming General Election; fearing that her neglect of the north-east will come back to bite her. However, it is too little too late for the SNP, who have neglected this area during their obsessive pursuit of independence.

“This election is a chance to change the direction of our country and put an end to the SNP’s obsession with independence. A vote for the Scottish Liberal Democrats is a vote for a party that will put local needs first for the whole of Scotland.”

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