With Alex Salmond having ruled out a deal with the Conservatives, it is possible a resurgent SNP with 20 seats or more could strike a deal with Ed Miliband that would put Labour in power. Such a prospect is unlikely to cool the street-level ferocity between the two.
It is an outcome that has moved fractionally closer with the Labour leader’s refusal yesterday to rule out a deal. It is too early for such an outcome to be regarded as anything other than one of a number of outcomes. It is the voters who will determine the balance of forces. But such an outcome cannot be ruled out. It would pose major problems for Mr Miliband if the price of his ticket to Downing Street includes a deal, formal or otherwise, with the SNP.
It also portends a major reaction south of the Border if, as is also possible, Miliband becomes prime minister despite Labour failing to secure the majority support of voters in England. Many would query the legitimacy of an outcome in which the UK premiership was effectively determined by the SNP. Such a deal with the SNP could well propel Miliband into Downing Street.
Another outcome could be a second election later this year. But it is doubtful the Conservatives would vote against Labour’s Finance Bill, however unpalatable, and trigger a second election without being sure it could win. Market reaction, meanwhile, could see a major sterling sell-off without early clarification.