Swinney says election ‘on knife edge’ as he calls for SNP vote to end austerity

First Minister John Swinney has urged Scots to back his party to avoid “more austerity cuts from Westminster” as he claimed the election was on a “knife edge”.

Mr Swinney will be in the Highlands as the campaign enters its final 48 hours with opinion polls suggesting the SNP and Labour are jousting to be the largest party north of the border.

Both Labour and the Conservatives have been criticised by experts, including the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS), over what was described as a “conspiracy of silence” relating to potential spending cuts required by the incoming government.

“There’s just two days until polling stations open, and across Scotland the result is too close to call,” the First Minister said.

“The result in England is a foregone conclusion and Keir Starmer will be the next UK prime minister. But in Scotland, the outcome is on a knife edge and every single vote will count.

“In the last few days of the campaign, we will be working hard to let the people of Scotland know that only a vote for the SNP is a vote to reject more austerity cuts from Westminster.”

He added: “Labour has baked £18 billion of cuts into their spending plans, they have promised to hold the door open to privatisation in the NHS and they are committed to Brexit – which has been a total disaster, especially in rural Scotland.

“If you want to say no to more austerity cuts from Westminster and ensure that decisions about Scotland are made in Scotland, then it must be SNP on Thursday.

“The SNP will be a strong voice for Scotland in Westminster, holding the Labour government to account and putting your interests and values first – but you have to vote for it.

“Vote SNP this Thursday and put Scotland first.”

But Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said: “On Thursday voters have the chance to beat the SNP and end their divisive independence obsession for good.

“In key seats across Scotland, where it’s a straight and very close fight between us and the SNP, that means voting Scottish Conservative.

“These seats are on a knife edge and a vote for any party other than the Scottish Conservatives – including Reform – risks the SNP getting in by the back door.”