Nicola Sturgeon statement at Westminster on the General Election

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The SNP now has 54 of Scotland's 59 seats in the British parliament in Westminster.

Meanwhile, the SNP pointed out that at least 10 Tory council candidates have now found themselves caught up in allegations of racism and right-wing extremism. From my work with constituents whose lives and health are being wrecked by Tory austerity I know first-hand how important it is that we protect vulnerable people in our society from an increasingly hard-line Tory Government.

Scotland's First Minister said: "She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party. Strength and unity with the Conservatives, division and weakness with the Scottish nationalists", she said in Parliament.

"By contrast, the Scottish Conservatives have the strength right across Scotland to stand up for people who oppose the SNP's plans".

Already, opinion polls have indicated that the Conservative Party (Tories) will either maintain their majority within the Parliament or grow that number.

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Improving on that performance in the election in June would be hard, but it could well do better than the 50% share of the vote it achieved at the last general election in 2015 - particularly as it has used the fact that Scotland voted against Brexit as its main argument for calling for another independence referendum.

The news of a snap general election to be held on June 8th has sparked a flurry of additional activity in the political landscape of the Western Isles. For Davidson, she will ably respond with a plea for all unionists to rally behind her cause and send a message of rejection to the SNP.

Answering a question about post-election co-operation with Jeremy Corbyn's Labour, Sturgeon said: "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".

Theresa May and Nicola Sturgeon would probably not find much in common about their life stories, nor in their visions of the future and the kind of country we should aspire to, but they have more in common than they would admit.

"It will once again give people the opportunity to reject the (Conservative government's) narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future".

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In short, the Tories would think they could do anything they want to Scotland, and get away with it.

Meanwhile, in Northern Ireland, the campaign will take place against a backdrop of the parties seeking agreement on a new power sharing executive following last month's elections to Stormont in the wake of the Renewable Heat Incentive saga. It has a 20 point lead over the Tories, who have now replaced Labour as Scotland's second most popular party. "They are focusing on their obsession - independence".

Scottish Liberal Democrat environment spokeswoman Mariam Mahmood said: "Scotland can not be a world leader on climate change while SNP ministers toy with opening up a new front of carbon-based fuels".

Sturgeon initially called for a second independence referendum in late 2018 or early 2019, however it is likely that such plans will now be delayed.

"It's better to get a deal, and then put it to the country and see what decision we want".

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