UK opposition leader narrows options on SNP election deal
British opposition leader Ed Miliband appeared to go a step further Sunday in ruling out a deal with the pro-independence Scottish National Party (SNP) if he fails to win next month’s election outright.
“I’m not doing deals with the Scottish National Party… it’s not happening. I’m working for a majority Labour government,” Miliband said in a BBC interview.
Miliband leads the centre-left Labour party which is virtually neck and neck in opinion polls with Prime Minister David Cameron’s centre-right Conservatives before May 7’s vote.
This indicates that neither of the two main parties will win outright and will have to team up with one or more smaller parties to form a coalition or minority government.
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, whose party is expected to win most of Scotland’s House of Commons seats amid surging support after last year’s rejected independence referendum, wants to do a post-election deal with Labour.
Miliband’s comments come as the Conservatives, facing accusations they have fought a negative and insufficiently passionate campaign, increasingly emphasise what they say are the dangers of an alliance between Labour and the SNP.
Cameron’s party claims the SNP would pull Labour further to the left and put the United Kingdom at risk by pushing for another referendum. They are running a high-profile poster campaign depicting Miliband as Sturgeon’s puppet.
Home Secretary Theresa May warned in an interview in the Mail on Sunday newspaper that a minority Labour government propped up by the SNP could prompt the “biggest constitutional crisis since the abdication” of King Edward VIII in 1936.
– Will Miliband ‘change tune’? –
With the Conservatives increasing their focus on the Scottish issue, Miliband appeared to rule out a “confidence and supply” agreement with the SNP during his BBC interview.
This is a deal in which a smaller party supports a minority government in House of Commons confidence motions and votes on government spending.
The Labour leader has already said he would not enter a formal coalition with the SNP, much of whose support is coming from former Labour voters.
That leaves the door open for a more informal vote-by-vote arrangement where the SNP could support Labour on an ad hoc basis in return for policy concessions.
In response, Sturgeon said that Miliband would be forced to consider working with other parties whether he liked it or not if he failed to secure a majority, as polls suggest will be the case.
“I suspect Ed Miliband will change his tune once the votes are counted,” she told Sky News during a campaign visit to Cumbernauld, outside Glasgow.
Cameron again stressed what he said would be the negative impact of a Labour-SNP alliance in an interview with Sky on Sunday.
“If you want a non-socialist alternative to the nationalists who want to break up the union (Britain), only the Conservatives can provide that,” he said