General election 2024: John Swinney 'confident' SNP will hold its Edinburgh seats

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First Minister John Swinney says he is confident the SNP will hold all three of the seats it is defending in Edinburgh.

And he indicated he wanted to engage with Labour on key issues despite Sir Keir Starmer ruling out any deal with the SNP.

John Swinney says he is confident the SNP will hold its seats in Edinburgh. Picture: Michael Boyd/PA WireJohn Swinney says he is confident the SNP will hold its seats in Edinburgh. Picture: Michael Boyd/PA Wire
John Swinney says he is confident the SNP will hold its seats in Edinburgh. Picture: Michael Boyd/PA Wire

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Speaking to the Evening News after visiting energy company Gravitricity in Leith, Mr Swinney said: “The SNP has a great team in the city of Edinburgh and I’m very confident we’ll hold onto our seats that are held by Deidre Brock, Joanna Cherry and Tommy Sheppard - and I’m also very confident that the SNP can make gains in this election.

“But we’re going to fight every single election in every seat in the Lothians and every seat in the city of Edinburgh and every seat in Scotland to win.”

Asked about a poll of polls which suggested Labour could win all the SNP’s seats in the Capital, he said: “The polls are at a very early stage in this election campaign and I’ve been pretty candid that the SNP has been through a rough time, but what’s also clear to me is that the polling position is improving for the SNP.

“One of the things I promised the SNP was that I would unite the party - that’s exactly what I’ve done, it’s only taken me a couple of weeks to do that and it’s working really well. And what that allows our campaign teams to do is to go out and to enthusiastically set out our message to attract support and I’m very confident that will happen - and it will result in us not only holding the three seats we’ve got in the city of Edinburgh, but giving us the best prospects of winning the other two seats in the city.”

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Mr Swinney was speaking after Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, during a visit to Scotland on Friday, ruled out a post-election deal with the SNP “under any circumstances”. Mr Swinney said: “I don’t think that’s a particularly great start from Keir Starmer because that sounds to me like a continuation from where the Conservatives have left off.

“If Keir Starmer wants to engage with Scotland, I’m leading a government that is constructive and wants to engage about areas where we can advance our agenda. And I think there will be a lot of areas where, through co-operation, we can bring to an end austerity, we can secure the investment that’s necessary in our public services, can repair our fractured relationship with Europe, which is causing such economic damage to the country, so I’m willing to engage on all of these questions.

“It would be good to hear from the Labour Party that they’re prepared also to engage. And this posturing from Keir Starmer, I don’t thin it really helps.”

He said the SNP would “use our influence within the House of Commons to advance the interests of the people of Scotland”. Asked if that would include pressing for another independence referendum, he said: “I want Scotland to be an independent country as early as possible so I’ve got to make sure we build support for independence and to make that happen because that’s the answer for Scotland to the problems of austerity, the cost of living crisis and the fractured relationship with Europe, all of which have been imposed on Scotland by the UK government.”

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