A “sweetheart deal” between Labour and the SNP after the June election could result in a “government in chaos”, Theresa May warned, as Scotland’s First Minister said she would use such an agreement to get as much of her nationalist manifesto implemented as possible.
Nicola Sturgeon mooted the possibility of a “progressive alliance” that would pursue “progressive policies” at Westminster if the June 8 election resulted in a hung parliament.
While Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn insisted he would not do any deals with the SNP, he attracted criticism after he appeared to indicate he would “open discussions” with the Scottish Government about a possible second independence referendum if he became prime minister.
Mr Corbyn said: “There will be no deals. There will be no alliance. We’re fighting this election to win.”
He added: “Only Labour or the Tories can win this election and voting Labour is the only way to remove Theresa May from office.”
But during an interview with Bauer and Global radio stations he was pressed on what would happen if he ended up in Number 10.
Mr Corbyn was asked: ‘’Theresa May says now is not the time for another independence referendum.
“You walk into Downing Street in a couple of weeks’ time, what do you say to Nicola Sturgeon?’’
The Labour leader replied: “I’ll obviously open discussions with the Government in Scotland and listen very carefully to what the Scottish Parliament says.
“I would ask them to think very carefully about it and suggest it would be much better to have this question dealt with at the conclusion of what are very serious and very important Brexit negotiations, where I am utterly determined to achieve tariff-free trade access to the European markets to protect manufacturing and service jobs all across the UK, all across Scotland, Wales and England as well of course.’’
He spoke out as Ms Sturgeon made clear that “if the arithmetic lends itself to a progressive alliance that can lock the Tories out of government, I would want the SNP to be part of that”.
While she stressed the “reality” of the election meant this was unlikely, the SNP leader told Sky News: “I’m going to launch a manifesto tomorrow that will put forward SNP policies.
“If there is any chance of a progressive alliance that locks the Tories out I would want to get as much of the SNP manifesto implemented as possible.”
Meanwhile Mrs May warned Conservative activists that the party has only to lose six seats for its Commons majority to disappear, opening the way to Downing Street for Labour.
The Prime Minister added: “That could mean in just 10 days’ time a government in chaos, Jeremy Corbyn in No 10, John McDonnell in the Treasury, Diane Abbott in the Home Office and Nicola Sturgeon and the Lib Dems pulling the strings.”
She added: “I’ve been clear talking about a second independence referendum in Scotland at this time.
“Now is not the time because what we need to be doing now as we face this historical moment as we need to get the Brexit negotiations right, what we need to do is to be working together and not pulling apart.
“I believe Nicola Sturgeon said yesterday that she didn’t think Jeremy Corbyn was capable of being prime minister but at the same time also said that she would prop him up and push him into government.”
Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson said the SNP leader “is desperate for a second referendum and will do anything to get it - even putting Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10”.
She added: “We know that the Labour Party in Scotland has done deals with the SNP to put them in power in town halls across the country, now we’ve got Nicola Sturgeon saying she wants to do a deal with Labour to put Jeremy Corbyn in charge of the country.
“I’m pretty sure we all know what the cost of that deal would be, she’d want a second independence referendum and Jeremy Corbyn has already said on a recent visit to Scotland that he’d be absolutely fine with that.”
Ms Davidson said it “looks like a sweetheart deal is in the offing” and claimed this would be a “disaster for Scotland”.