The SNP will form a progressive alliance with other parties to “lock the Tories out of government” if they win enough seats to become kingmakers, the party’s leader said.
Nicola Sturgeon said other parties would need to have the same level of commitment to the NHS should the Scottish Nationals be in a position to decide who could get the keys to Downing Street.
However the party has ruled out being in coalition, suggesting it would pursue issue by issue agreements, while Ms Sturgeon said they would not back parties who would not support a second referendum on Scottish independence.
She said: “If there’s a hung parliament SNP MPs will seek to form a progressive alliance to lock the Tories out of government.”
Ms Sturgeon also made it clear that she is not a fan of Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, whom she accused of not being able to give a straight answer on whether the UK should leave the EU or not.
Labour’s Keir Starmer told Sky News the party is in the election to win it, and said they would not do deals, or grant a second referendum on Scottish independence.
Ms Sturgeon added the SNP will pledge to protect the NHS from trade deals in the next parliament at the campaign launch in Edinburgh.
It comes as:
- Labour pledged to extend statutory maternity pay and bolster the entitlement to flexible working
- Boris Johnson announced plans for a new visa to attract doctors and nurses to the NHS
- Labour candidate for Clacton, Gideon Bull, pulled out of the race as he denied calling a Jewish councillor a “Shylock” in a council meeting
- Liberal Democrat leader Jo Swinson is in Scotland saying voters who “despair” of Brexit should back her party to stop it
Ms Sturgeon’s party will introduce the NHS Protection Bill to ensure the health system isn’t used as a “bargaining chip”.
It comes amid concerns the US would be keen to open up the NHS to American healthcare companies after Donald Trump said “everything was on the table” for a trade deal.
Ms Sturgeon claims that while the NHS is devolved in Scotland the UK government could still “sell off” the NHS in trade negotiations.
Her bill will also legislate that the devolved governments would have to ratify any trade deal before it went ahead.
The Conservatives and US president Mr Trump have said the NHS is not “up for grabs” in a future trade deal.
Ms Sturgeon said the election is “the most important of our lifetime” adding “the future of our country is at stake”.
She said Scotland had been “on a journey”, saying it was “more European” and naming key policies on tax and healthcare.
She said: “Many of the gains of the last 20 years and the promise of a better future are under threat.
“Scotland’s vote to remain in the EU has been ignored. For the very first time, the UK government has chosen to legislate on devolved matters without consent of Holyrood.
“The Tories number one pledge is to take Scotland out of the EU, against our will.
“I doubt there is anyone in Scotland who is not heartily sick of the Brexit nightmare.
“But the Boris Johnson deal does not ‘get Brexit done’ – it just opens the door to the next episode of the Brexit horror show.
“His Brexit deal covers the exit terms not the future relationship.
“Ahead of us would lie many years of wrangling over the UK’s future economic relationship, justice and security arrangements, fisheries, migration and much more.
“What we do know is that the Tories will take Scotland out of the Customs Union and Single Market, a trading block eight times bigger than the UK.”
About the Lib Dems, she said the party would prioritise Westminster control of Scotland rather than keep it in the EU, even suggesting the party would choose to let Scotland go through a Tory Brexit.
She said: “Westminster’s priorities can be summed up in just three words – Brexit, Brexit, Brexit.”
Ms Sturgeon also pledged again to have a Scottish independence referendum next year, claiming the SNP has a “cast iron mandate” for one, because it won the Scottish Parliament election with that in its manifesto.
The Brexit Election: For the fastest results service and in-depth analysis watch Sky News live from 9pm on Thursday 12 December, with a KayBurley@breakfast election special on Friday 13 December