Scottish First Minister Nicola Sturgeon staked a claim for her nationalists to be seen as the effective opposition to David Cameron’s Tories in the U.K. Parliament as Labour seeks a new leader in the wake of its election defeat.
“Given that Labour are entering a period of introspection, questioning their very purpose in life, the SNP is going to be the principal opposition to the Conservatives,” Sturgeon said on BBC Television’s “Andrew Marr Show” Sunday. “There are people in England, Wales and Northern Ireland who will be as disappointed as people in Scotland that we’re looking at a majority Conservative government. We can be a voice for them.”
Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party took 50 percent of the vote and 56 of the 59 House of Commons seats in Scotland in Thursday’s election, in which the Tories unexpectedly won a parliamentary majority. Labour leader Ed Miliband resigned after the party’s defeat, which saw it lose 40 seats in Scotland. SNP support surged after the failure to achieve a majority for independence from the U.K. in September’s referendum.
Cameron “cannot act now as if it’s business as usual in Scotland” and will have to offer the semi-autonomous Scottish government and the Parliament in Edinburgh more additional powers than have already been promised in the wake of the referendum, Sturgeon said.
The prime minister said in a victory speech on Friday that he intends to implement his devolution plans for Scotland as quickly as possible, “to create the strongest devolved government anywhere in the world with important powers over taxation.”
“Scotland voted overwhelmingly for change and I think that has to be heeded,” she said, repeating calls for “priority devolution of powers over business taxes, employment, the minimum wage, welfare.”
Another independence referendum is not “on the immediate horizon,” Sturgeon said. “What we have to do now is make sure we get the best deal for Scotland within the Westminster system.”