John Swinney claims he is 'unifying figure' for Scotland despite fiery general election campaign

John Swinney has claimed he is a "unifying figure for the country" despite a fiery start to the general election campaign.

The First Minister said in a visit to the east end of Glasgow that he is still "trying to reach out to find common ground" with other parties in Holyrood.

Swinney had promised to work with other parties when he became First Minister after his predecessor Humza Yousaf lost support of the Greens.

But Swinney has had a couple of feisty interactions with opposition party leaders during First Minister's Questions.

He accused the Tories of having a "brass neck" and called the investigation into the Michael Matheson scandal "prejudiced".

His party has also fallen behind Labour in the polls, with one showing them trailing by 10 points.

When asked if the consensual approach which he aimed for has gone, Swinney said: "No, actually to be fair, we've got an election campaign and it does get a wee bit... the temperature goes up a bit.

"I think it'd be impossible for the temperature not to go up in an election campaign.

"I think if you look at how I'm handling my interaction with other parties in parliament, you will see that I'm trying to reach out to find common ground.

"And I'll try that during the election campaign but there are obviously choices to be made here.

"But I absolutely make it clear that my style as First Minister will be to try to bring people together.

"I'm a unifying figure in my party. I'm a unifying figure in the country. And that's how I want to proceed with my term as First Minister.

"You can judge whether I'm careful on the campaign trail to act in that fashion.

"Yes there's choices, of course there's choices, that's what politics is about.

"But choices can be exercised with courtesy and that's what people will get from me."

The SNP leader was speaking during a campaign event at Barrowfield Community Centre in the Glasgow East constituency.

He was joined by his party's six Glasgow MPs who are standing at the general election.

Recent polls have projected the party to lose all six seats in the city.

Swinney also said he would work with Labour leader Keir Starmer or current Prime Minister Rishi Sunak after the election.

He said: "I'm very happy as First Minister of Scotland, as leader of the Scottish National Party to work with a United Kingdom Prime Minister.

"You've got to have somebody to reciprocate that. So I've committed myself to do that today and have spoken on the telephone to Rishi Sunak and I'm very happy to talk to Keir Starmer about his priorities."

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