ALEX Salmond has said the SNP would block any Conservative attempt to form a minority government by voting down a Tory Queen’s Speech if it holds the balance of power after the general election.
The former first minister said this would clear the way for a Labour administration propped up by Nationalists – and did not exclude the possibility of a formal coalition, even though it has been explicitly ruled out by Ed Miliband.
With polls suggesting that increased SNP representation at Westminster could see Mr Salmond’s party holding the destiny of the UK in its hands, Mr Salmond was asked about the role the SNP would have in forming the next British government.
Mr Salmond rejected Labour’s argument that the party with the most seats after the 7 May poll will have the opportunity to form the government, insisting that the key question is which leader can command a majority in the Commons.
“The Tories would have to go straight effectively for a vote of confidence – usually the Queen’s Speech, although it could be otherwise, and we’d be voting against,” said Mr Salmond. “So if Labour joins us in that pledge, then that’s Cameron locked out.
“And then under the (Fixed-Term) Parliaments Act that the Westminster parliament’s passed but nobody seems to have read, you’d then have a two-week period to form another government – and of course you want to form another government because this might be people’s only chance to form another government.”
Speaking to the New Statesman magazine, Mr Salmond also said that the historical figure he identified with was Nelson Mandela, adding that “everybody of my generation would say that”.
The Tories reacted angrily to his remarks, accusing the former SNP leader of trying to undermine the will of the people.
A Conservative spokesman said: “Alex Salmond has confirmed he would sabotage the democratic will of the British people in order to make Ed Miliband prime minister.
“That would mean chaos for Britain, with weak Ed Miliband dancing to Alex Salmond’s tune.
“The only way to protect Trident, keep Britain together and safeguard the economy is to vote Conservative.”
The Scottish Tories also took issue with what they said was Mr Salmond’s “bizarre” mention of Mr Mandela, as he identified himself with the anti-apartheid freedom fighter.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives said: “Alex Salmond is fast becoming a figure of ridicule. This bizarre comment suggests that the former first minister has unhinged himself from reality completely.”
In the interview, Mr Salmond went on to say that he thought Mr Miliband was wrong to rule out a coalition deal with the SNP.
“If I were him, I wouldn’t have ruled it out,” said Mr Salmond.
“Nicola [Sturgeon] has said that she thought full coalition was unlikely.
“But she didn’t rule it out: she said it was highly unlikely… It’s still highly unlikely.”
Asked what he saw as the probable outcome, Mr Salmond said: “I think probable would be vote-by-vote [support for Labour], and possible would be confidence and supply.”
Mr Salmond said it was “bad politics” for Mr Cameron to float the prospect of English votes for English laws on the morning after last year’s independence referendum and said it was now “not a question of if, but when” a second referendum on independence would take place.
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