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SNP needs to ‘rebuild trust’ John Swinney admits in Scottish leaders debate

First Minister John Swinney has admitted the SNP need to “rebuild the trust of the people of Scotland” in the first televised debate of the general election campaign.

Mr Swinney, whose party faces serious threats from a rejuvenated Labour, acknowledged that the SNP had faced “tough times” but added: “Rebuilding trust begins by recognising you have got challenges to overcome, and I recognise those.

“We have got a lot of work to do, which is why I am setting out a message which is hopeful about the future of Scotland.”

He said that Scotland “deserves better” and blamed a “broken” Westminster system for “austerity, Brexit and the cost of living crisis”.

Anas Sarwar, the Scottish Labour leader, said that the country was “crying out for change”.

He added: “And after 14 years of Tory chaos and failure, this is an opportunity Scotland cannot afford to miss.”

Mr Swinney responded: “I absolutely agree that we should get rid of this Tory Government.”

When challenged by Mr Swinney over where spending cuts would come from if Labour came to power, Mr Sarwar replied: “I don’t accept there will be spending cuts.

“We have set out where we will raise extra revenues to both invest in our public services right now, as well as make the investments for the long-term.”

The Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross made a plea to voters to come together to oust the SNP.

He claimed: “In many seats across Scotland it’s a straight fight between my party and the SNP. If the SNP win they will claim every seat as a mandate for independence.”

Mr Ross clashed with Mr Swinney over whether the SNP would support the granting of new licences for oil and gas developments in the North Sea.

Mr Swinney said he would want there to be “climate compatibility test on every single decision we take in relation to the oil and gas sector”, prompting Mr Ross to interject, saying: “That’s a no, John Swinney and the SNP are against new oil and gas licences.”

Meanwhile, Mr Sarwar pledged his that Labour would “step and put our money where our mouth is” at Grangemouth, where the oil refinery is to be scheduled to be closed, and it would step in to save jobs and invest “hundreds of millions of pounds”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Alex Cole-Hamilton, accused both the Scottish and UK governments of having “lost sight of what matters” to the public.

He added: “You’re working harder but it feels like you’re falling further behind.

“We badly need some hope and a change of direction. Well, Scottish Liberal Democrats are all about hope, and we’re part of the change that’s coming.”

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