Alex Salmond has rubbished the idea that Theresa May called a snap General Election to strengthen her position on Brexit.
The former SNP leader branded the argument a “smokescreen” and claimed instead that Mrs May was concerned about her small parliamentary majority amid the possibility of Tory MPs being charged following a probe into election spending.
Mr Salmond said it was possible that some members could lose their seats if breaches of expenses limits are proven and said it was a “big risk” for the Prime Minster, given her small majority of just 17.
He stated: “She thinks because of Labour’s weakness she can get a majority of a hundred or perhaps even more. If you were to lose say a dozen MPs when you’ve got a majority of a hundred, well it doesn’t really matter.
“If you lose a dozen when you have a majority of 17, then it’s catastrophic. To lose MPs when you have a big majority is careless; to lose them when you have a small majority is catastrophic.”
The Crown Prosecution Service is understood to be considering charges against over 30 individuals as an investigation continues into breaches of spending limit rules at the 2015 General Election.
In theory, election results in individual seats could be declared invalid if laws are found to have been broken – although this is not an automatic process – and could lead to a significant reduction in the number of MPs who support Mrs May’s plans.
Mr Salmond claimed that the Prime Minister was left feeling “very insecure” after a Tory rebellion in March led to an embarrassing U-turn on plans to increase national insurance contributions for the self-employed.
He said the Chancellor’s budget had been “turned over” by a small number of rebel MPs despite the Prime Minister having “what seemed a very secure” mandate on Brexit and had highlighted the need for greater support in Parliament.
He added: “Forget all this nonsense about her not being able to get Brexit through. Of course she can get Brexit through. She hasn’t lost a vote on it. Labour aren’t even opposing it.
“That’s all rubbish, the stuff about Westminster opposition parties opposing as if that wasn’t the constitutional duty of opposition parties to oppose.
“All of that is a smokescreen for the fundamental reason why we are going into an election campaign. The Prime Minister discovered that her majority wasn’t secure on the economy and secondly, there was a threat to her Conservative MPs.”.