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Swinney to urge voters ‘to put Scotland’s interests first’

John Swinney will urge people to “vote SNP to put Scotland’s interests first” as he formally launches the party’s general election campaign.

Mr Swinney will tell activists and candidates at a rally in Glasgow later that Westminster decision-making has meant “austerity, Brexit and a cost of living crisis being imposed on Scotland”.

Scotland’s first minister will stress his belief in independence as a way to ensure decisions about Scotland are made in Scotland.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said John Swinney’s “relaunch of a shambolic campaign” proved he was more interested in his party than the people.

The Scottish Conservatives said Mr Swinney had “abandoned any pretence that he is a fresh start” and accused him of making a “desperate defence of the SNP’s dreadful record in government”.

Meanwhile, Scottish Lib Dems leader Alex Cole-Hamilton also criticised the SNP’s continued push for a second independence referendum – insisting voters simply “don’t care”.

However, Mr Swinney will call on the public to back his party’s indy stance in the 4 July general election and use the vote as a direct way to remove the Conservatives from government.

He is expected to say: “A combination of Westminster cuts and Brexit has reduced the money available for the NHS, other public services and housing.

“Brexit alone has wiped billions from the Scottish economy compared with EU membership. And it’s pushed up food and other household costs.

“Given the UK is moving so badly in the wrong direction I would be failing in my duty if I did not set out what I believe is a better future for Scotland.”

Following his election as first minister last month, Mr Swinney called for more respect to be shown in Scottish politics.

Looking ahead to the UK-wide general election, he will say that he believes in “the politics of persuasion or, if that’s not possible, respectful disagreement”.

He will tell those at the rally that “in our wonderful, diverse, inspiring country” everyone should have a chance to get on in life.

“It’s why I believe so strongly in eradicating child poverty,” the first minister will say.

“At this election it is those principles that will guide my approach. So I am asking people to vote SNP to remove the Tories from government.

“I’m asking people to vote SNP to put Scotland’s interests first. I’m asking people to vote for a future made in Scotland, for Scotland.”

Mr Swinney will also highlight what the he says the SNP has achieved in government – including free prescriptions, the abolition of university tuition fees, free bus travel for under-22s and the Scottish Child Payment.