Nicola Sturgeon has used a speech in Edinburgh to attack the “scale and speed” of spending cuts planned by the UK government.
Speaking ahead of the Queen’s Speech, the SNP leader also reiterated her party’s support for Britain’s continued membership of the European Union.
She made the speech on a visit to Heart of Midlothian FC’s Tynecastle Stadium reports BBC.
She was joined by the Scottish Finance Secretary John Swinney.
The pair also unveiled the Scottish Business Pledge which aims to promote “fairness, equality and sustainable economic growth”.
An “alternative to austerity” was the centrepiece of the Scottish National Party’s successful general election campaign.
In her first major economic speech since the election, Ms Sturgeon argued that the prime minister cannot ignore the democratic will of the Scottish people.
She said: “The result of the general election provides an opportunity and a challenge for the Scottish government. There is clearly an opportunity to ensure that Scotland’s priorities are better understood.
“But there is also a significant challenge in working with a majority government at Westminster – many of whose policies we disagree with.
“We will continue to oppose spending reductions of the scale and speed that the UK government has suggested. These would slow economic recovery and make deficit reduction more difficult – something shown by the impact of the cuts imposed after 2010.”
Ms Sturgeon said David Cameron must either change his approach or find ways to lessen the impact on Scotland.
She also said that business, employees and government needed to work more closely together to build a prosperous and cohesive society.
The SNP leader again insisted that the UK should only withdraw from the EU if there was a majority in favour of exit in all four nations of the UK.
She said: “Since a referendum is now inevitable we will work to protect Scotland’s interests in that referendum. We’ll propose a double majority meaning that exit from the European Union would only be possible if all four nations agreed to that, something that would ensure that Scotland couldn’t be forced out of the European Union against our will.
“And during the run up to the referendum, the Scottish government will of course make a strong and positive case for staying in the EU.”