Nicola Sturgeon hits out at 'horror show' leadership contest and reiterates calls for general election

Scotland’s First Minister said the governance of the UK should not be a 'revolving door' where one party gets to choose who occupies No 10

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Nicola Sturgeon has said the incoming prime minister’s first act in the job should be calling a general election amid a “horror show” leadership contest.

Scotland’s First Minister said the governance of the UK should not be a “revolving door” where one party gets to choose who occupies No 10.

The leadership contest to replace Liz Truss, who resigned after 44 days, is between Rishi Sunak and Penny Mordaunt, with the former widely tipped for the top job.

But speaking during a visit to Buchanan Street Residential Children’s House in Coatbridge, North Lanarkshire, on Monday, Ms Sturgeon said another wave of “horrific” austerity cuts will be “unleashed” on Scotland, regardless of who becomes prime minister.

Nicola Sturgeon
Nicola Sturgeon

She said: “It is a horror show that is deeply and profoundly concerning. The Scottish Government is still dealing in our budget with the legacy of the last round of Tory austerity. We’re dealing with the impact of soaring inflation on our budget.

“Our public services cannot withstand another wave of Tory austerity. We need an alternative and my message is it doesn’t have to be like this.

“This is all happening because of Brexit and because of Tory economic mismanagement.”

And she echoed the calls from her party’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, for a general election to be called to let the public decide who should run the country.

“Of course, there should be a general election,” she said. “The governance of any country cannot simply be a revolving door that one party gets to pick time and time again who occupies the highest office in the land.

The leadership contest to replace Liz Truss, who resigned after 44 days, is between Rishi Sunak (above) and Penny Mordaunt
The leadership contest to replace Liz Truss, who resigned after 44 days, is between Rishi Sunak (above) and Penny Mordaunt

“It is preposterous, democratically. I accept that parties will change leader at times between elections. That happened when I became First Minister.

“But I then went on to lead my party to a general election landslide within six months, to a Scottish election victory within 18 months.

“But the Tories can’t keep changing who occupies No 10 without getting democratic legitimacy.

“So, of course, there should be a general election but do I think that is going to happen? That the Tories are voluntarily going to concede that? No, I don’t.”

And following the announcement from former prime minister Boris Johnson that he will not be entering the leadership race, Ms Sturgeon said any Tory MP who contemplated his return shows how “ludicrous” and “deeply damaging” the party’s governance has become.

The First Minister also said the turmoil in Westminster was a clear case for Scottish independence.

“I don’t think there can be very many people who look at what is happening at Westminster and the implications of that for every single family and business across the country right now who doesn’t think we can do better than this.”

She added: “So yes, I do believe that everything we are not just witnessing right now, but experiencing because we’re not independent, underlines the importance of us becoming independent as quickly as possible.”

Meanwhile, Scottish Tory MSP Maurice Golden said the party had been hurt by Liz Truss’ tenure and subsequent resignation.

“I think the events over the last 44 days have definitely damaged the Conservative cause,” he said on Monday.

“But that’s why we need Rishi Sunak in, because he can provide that stability going forward, he can restore the credibility in the economy but all the credibility of the Conservatives in managing that with the people of both Scotland and the UK.”

Mr Golden said he believed the next prime minister would be able to avoid calling another general election, saying that the former chancellor would be able to show the public “the Conservatives can be trusted on the economy”.