Stronger SNP To Lead UK

The SNP is preparing ''to lead the UK'' with Alex Salmond expected to be a big voice at Westminster, leader Nicola Sturgeon has said.

Ms Sturgeon said it will be vital for her MPs to vote on English laws that have an impact on the Scottish budget, and said it is ''outrageous'' for Westminster politicians to dismiss the SNP when they were urging Scotland to reject independence and ''lead the UK'' before the referendum.

''Scotland didn't vote Yes in the referendum so at this stage we are not going to be an independent country - we remain part of the Westminster system,'' she told Sky News' Murnaghan programme.

''And, of course, during the referendum campaign we had Westminster politicians telling us that our voice mattered in the Westminster system, that our influence mattered.

''I think the slogan used at the time was: 'Scotland shouldn't leave the UK, we should seek to lead the UK.'

''So now that Scotland is looking as if we might take these Westminster politicians at their word by voting for a party that will make Scotland's voice heard, I think it is outrageous for these Westminster politicians to be throwing their hands up in horror.

''Scotland wants to make its voice heard at Westminster and we will pursue progressive policies that I know will have significant support in other parts of the UK as well.''

Ms Sturgeon added: ``Alex Salmond is an enormous asset and the SNP is a team. He will be a big voice in the Westminster parliament.

''I think you can see by the reaction of both the Tories and Labour that Alex Salmond frightens the life out of them and long may that continue.

''I am the leader of the SNP, I will lead negotiations, I will lead my party and hopefully I will continue, as First Minister of Scotland even after the Scottish Parliament election next year, to lead my country.''

Ms Sturgeon said there is a strong case for English votes for English laws that don't have an impact on Scotland.

But she added: ''If we see the continued privatisation of the NHS in England, that has a direct knock-on effect on how much money we have got in Scotland to spend on our NHS.

''So on these matters, it is not only perfectly legitimate for SNP MPs, indeed all Scottish MPs, to vote on these matters - I would say it is vital that we vote on these matters to protect Scotland's budget.''


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