Sturgeon calls on voters to "strengthen Scotland's hand against an extreme Brexit"

The Scottish First Minister's party launched their manifesto today ahead of next week's British election

Sturgeon calls on voters to "strengthen Scotland's hand against an extreme Brexit"

Nicola Sturgeon. Picture by: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images

Nicola Sturgeon has called on voters to give her a mandate to "demand a place for Scotland" during the upcoming Brexit negotiations.

The Scottish First Minister was speaking as her party - the Scottish National Party (SNP) - launched their manifesto ahead of next week's British general election.

In their manifesto, the party pledges: "If the SNP wins this election, we will demand a place for Scotland at the Brexit negotiating table and the inclusion of the case for our place in the Single Market in the UK’s negotiating remit."

On the subject of Scottish independence, the party insists that the upcoming election will not decide whether or not the country becomes independent - but will instead "reinforce the Scottish Parliament’s right to decide when an independence referendum should happen".

"The SNP believes that if Scotland chooses to become independent, we should be a member state of the EU," the manifesto adds.

Members of the Scottish Parliament earlier this year backed Nicola Sturgeon's call for a second independence referendum, to be held towards the end of Brexit negotiations. Theresa May, however, has previously rejected the proposal.

Speaking at today's launch, Ms Sturgeon said the manifesto was focused on 'fairness, opportunity and democracy'.

She argued that "only the SNP can keep the Tories in check" in Scotland, and said it was important to "strengthen Scotland's hand" rather than Theresa May's.

Ms Sturgeon also promised to end austerity in the country.

She told gathered supporters: "There is just too much at stake for Brexit simply to be imposed on Scotland, no matter how damaging it turns out to be. Our future must be decided by us, not for us.

"My message to all voters in Scotland is this: whether you voted Leave or Remain last year, or Yes or No in 2014, vote SNP on 8 June to give me a mandate to demand a place for Scotland at the Brexit negotiating table, so we can work to keep Scotland in the single market," she added.

Ms Sturgeon's party currently has 54 of the 59 Scottish seats in Westminster. A recent YouGov opinion poll on Scotland's voting intentions shows the SNP with 42% support - 13 points ahead of the Conservatives, and 23 ahead of Labour.