Sturgeon vows SNP will stand up to May
Scotland's First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has claimed that UK Prime Minister Theresa May's surprise announcement is a "huge political miscalculation" because Scots will reject her "divisive" agenda.
Ms Sturgeon said she will fight the June 8 contest arguing that a vote for the SNP is needed to stand up against the Conservatives' plans for a 'hard' Brexit and continuing austerity.
But she dodged questions over whether her party performing worse in the 2015 election, when it won 56 out of 59 Scottish seats, would undermine her case for a second independence referendum.
Ms Sturgeon said the 2016 Holyrood election result has already given her a mandate for another independence vote, but Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said she intends to make opposition to a rerun central to the Scottish Tory campaign.
Ms Sturgeon said the prime minister's surprise announcement was "one of the most extraordinary U-turns in recent political history". She said: "She is clearly betting that the Tories can win a bigger majority in England given the utter disarray in the Labour Party.
"That makes it all the more important that Scotland is protected from a Tory Party which now sees the chance of grabbing control of government for many years to come and moving the UK further to the right - forcing through a hard Brexit and imposing deeper cuts in the process."
She said the election would "once again give people the opportunity to reject the Tories' narrow, divisive agenda, as well as reinforcing the democratic mandate which already exists for giving the people of Scotland a choice on their future."
But she signalled she wanted to decouple the SNP's election campaign from Brexit, with around a third of the party's supporters having voted Leave, and her demand for a second independence referendum.