A bullish Alex Salmond shrugged off Conservative talk about securing his Gordon seat when he launched his re-election campaign yesterday.
The former First Minister is facing a challenge in the north-east after the Tories picked up council seats across the area in last week’s local government election.
In response, Mr Salmond accused his rivals of making “vainglorious boasts” about their chances after Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson visited the area on Saturday.
He added: “I treat all my opponents with respect and I don’t claim victory in advance like the Tories do.
“Folk in the north-east of Scotland have a way of bringing people who count their chickens back down to earth with a sharp bump.”
A key message from Conservative activists is that Aberdeenshire will be better represented in the Brexit discussions by an MP inside government than by an opposition SNP politician on the sidelines.
But Mr Salmond – who is defending a majority of 8,600 won in 2015 – shrugged off the suggestion the SNP will play no part in the negotiations with the EU.
He said: “A Tory backbencher is not going to be involved in the negotiations. But David Davis has assured us the Scottish government will be involved.”
Speaking at The New Inn, near his constituency office in Ellon, Mr Salmond insisted he would fight his campaign on “concrete achievements” such as the new Aberdeen bypass and Ellon Academy.
He also promised to continue investing in infrastructure if re-elected on June 8, including the dualling of the A96 Aberdeen to Inverurie route.
Mr Salmond’s campaign launch came just a day after Ms Davidson joined her party’s Gordon candidate Colin Clark in Inverurie.
They are targeting the former First Minister’s seat as well as that of SNP MP Angus Robertson in Moray.
She said: “Across the north and north-east of Scotland, it is now absolutely clear that only the Scottish Conservatives can beat the SNP.
“Voters have a clear choice at the general election – a return to more division with the SNP or a vote for the Scottish Conservatives to stop another referendum and get the government back on the day job.”
Mr Clark and Mr Salmond will also face off against Liberal Democrat candidate David Evans.
The former Ellon Academy pupil unsuccessfully contested the Banffshire and Buchan Coast constituency in last year’s Holyrood elections.
Mr Evans has maintained Gordon deserves an MP who will “put the local area first”.