Scotland needs choice on independence at end of Brexit: Sturgeon

United Kingdom election: Sturgeon plays down Tory threat in Scotland

"It may be by necessity, but we don't want that".

Ms Davidson, who was campaigning in Dumfries ahead of the June 8 General Election, said: "We've got schools who are going backwards, we've got college places that have been cut, 152,000 of them, so there are fewer opportunities for people".

The First Minister said joining the European Free Trade Association in a Norway-style setup may end up a "necessity" because of a Brussels block.

Asked whether she would seek to rejoin EFTA, Sturgeon did not rule out the possibility but did not give a clear answer either.

Speaking during a campaign stop in the Lanark and Hamilton East constituency, Ms Sturgeon said the election was "about strengthening Scotland's hand in Brexit negotiations by giving the SNP a clear democratic mandate to demand a place for Scotland at the top table - with our continuing place in the single market a fundamental pillar of the UK's negotiating remit".

The Tories also earned more first preference votes than the SNP in Gordon, where the former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond is the incumbent MP.

Sturgeon has now indicated she may not seek immediate reentry to the European Union after independence after all, confirming speculation she could instead propose Scotland takes the so-called "Norway option" by joining the Efta free trade area instead.

"Now, in a cynical attempt to win back Leave voters who have deserted the SNP, she now refuses to say whether an independent Scotland would go back in".

An SNP victory in the General Election north of the border would provide a mandate for a role in Brexit negotiations, Nicola Sturgeon has said.

She is expected to say: "Under the Tories and the SNP almost half a million emergency food parcels have been handed out to people across Scotland".

"Holding another referendum on leaving the United Kingdom is the wrong thing to do for Scotland's economy, especially when there is so much economic uncertainty from the Tories' plans for a reckless Brexit".

"Proposals that would have protected our place in the single market even although we were leaving the EU".

The Scottish Government want a second vote held on the independence question between autumn next year and spring 2019.

Tory deputy leader Jackson Carlaw said: "Her position on Europe has descended into complete chaos. And her flirtation with Efta would leave us with all the obligations but no voice in decision-making".

Ms Sturgeon also defended her Government's record on education following publication of the latest Scottish survey of literacy and numeracy.

She admitted "we have a particular challenge" in those areas, adding: "I absolutely, readily accept there are areas where we need to do better".

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