UK Election Boosts Scottish NP Hopes

LONDON (AP) -- The Scottish National Party launched its campaign for Britain's Dec. 12 election on Friday, urging Scots to send its lawmakers to London in order to bring Scotland a step closer to independence.

The party currently holds 35 of Scotland's 59 House of Commons seats, and hopes discontent about Brexit will boost that number.

In Britain's 2016 referendum on European Union membership, Scotland voted overwhelmingly to remain in the 28-nation bloc.

Polls suggest that has boosted support for independence, which Scottish voters rejected in a 2014 plebiscite.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said "Scotland's vote to remain in the EU has been ignored" and that a vote for the SNP "is a vote to escape Brexit."

The party says it will try to hold a new independence referendum next year.

That would require the approval of the British government in London. Prime Minister Boris Johnson's Conservatives say they will refuse to give permission.

But the SNP could emerge as kingmakers if the election results in a divided Parliament with no party holding an overall majority.

Sturgeon said a Parliament with no overall majority would be "the best outcome for Scotland, because it gives us significant influence and power."

Sturgeon said the party would not prop up a Conservative administration, but could help the left-of-center Labour Party hold power --- as long as Labour agreed to support a new independence referendum for Scotland.