Miliband: ‘I am not interested in deals with SNP’

ED Miliband has decisively ruled out any kind of deal between Labour and the SNP if there is a hung parliament after next week’s General Election.

Labour leader Ed Miliband with Scottish Labour leader, Jim Murphy in Edinburgh. Picture: Neil Hanna

The Labour leader said he was “not doing deals with the Scottish National Party”. Asked whether he would negotiate with the SNP to gain support for his government’s Budget, he replied: “It’s not happening.”

Mr Miliband said he had “big disagreements” with the SNP over independence, economic policy and defence. His remarks were seen as a hardening of his party’s stance on any prospect of a deal with the SNP to keep the Conservatives out of power, suggesting he would prefer to lead a minority government or do a deal with the Liberal Democrats. But SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said Mr Miliband would “change his tune once the votes are cast” and when he needed the support of a large bloc of Nationalist MPs to keep a Labour government in power.

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Mr Miliband was pressed on the BBC’s Andrew Marr Show on whether he would consider a confidence-and-supply deal with the SNP to ensure backing for a queen’s speech and Budget if he failed to secure an overall majority.

Mr Miliband said: “I am not interested in deals, no.’’

He added: “If it is a Labour government it will be a Labour queen’s speech, it will be a Labour Budget. It will not be written by the SNP.’’

He denied that ordinary voters were concerned about the prospect of a Labour deal with the SNP, saying: “That’s not what I’m picking up.”

Mr Miliband said an SNP vote would mean a “road” to a second referendum and suggested the Nationalists were following a similar agenda to the Conservatives by setting one part of the UK against another.

“The Tories and the SNP now have something in common: they want to set one part of the country against another,” Mr Miliband said.

“The Tories say it’s England versus Scotland; the SNP say it’s Scotland versus England.

“We need a prime minister who can unite the whole of our country, who can stand up for working people in every part of the UK and that’s the prime minister I believe I can be.

“The challenges that we have in common across our country are bigger than what divides us.”

Ms Sturgeon said the Labour leader would have to “respect the wishes of the people” if he becomes prime minister.

She said: “If there is a minority government, if no party has an overall majority, then it’s simply not possible to ignore the views of other parties. I know that, I was part of a minority government at the Scottish Parliament.

“So if the SNP has a large number of MPs, firstly we can use that clout to keep the Tories out, and secondly we can use it to ensure the Tories are replaced with something better, bolder and more progressive.” She added: “If Ed Miliband doesn’t get a majority, as the polls are all saying he won’t, then he’ll have to work with other parties.”

Meanwhile, David Cameron stepped up his claims about the dangers of Nationalists holding sway over Mr Miliband and warned voters that there were “11 days to save Britain”.

The Prime Minister said a minority Labour administration propped up by the SNP would be a “very disturbing development” as it would give a nationalist party a direct say in the UK government.

Mr Cameron said: “Ed Miliband can only form a government with the assistance of the SNP and that I think is a very disturbing development for our country because the SNP don’t come down to Westminster to make our government stronger or make our country stronger.

“They come down to Westminster to break it up and I think it is the right and responsible thing to point out the dangers of that.”

Conservative London mayor Boris Johnson said the prospect was “very deeply alarming” and suggested that Mr Miliband would have the SNP “crouching on his back like a monkey” if he became prime minister.

Home Secretary Theresa May said a Labour-SNP government could be “the biggest constitutional crisis since the abdication”, when King Edward VIII gave up the throne in 1936 because of his affair with American divorcee Wallis Simpson.

The Conservative campaign has likened former first minister Alex Salmond to a pickpocket, and a new billboard advert from the party shows him dressed all in black, reaching out to steal the wallet of a passer-by.

Mr Salmond insisted yesterday the SNP could have a “substantial influence” at Westminster after 7 May, with the party tipped to win as many as 50 seats.

The former first minister, who is contesting the Lib Dem-held seat of Gordon in Aberdeenshire, said “strong groups of MPs” would be good for Scotland and progressive voters in the rest of the UK.

Mr Salmond said: “The best thing to do, and this applies not just in Scotland but right across the country, is to start laughing at this Conservative campaign.

“The people of Scotland understand it’s going to be a good thing for Scotland to have a strong group of Scottish National Party MPs.

“But as Nicola Sturgeon has been brilliantly laying out in this campaign, it’s going to be good thing for those who believe in progressive politics across the UK – people who want an increase rather than a decrease in public spending, people who care about the health service, the education system, right across these islands.”

He added: “This stuff from Theresa May about the worst constitutional crisis since 1936 – has she forgotten the Second World War or more recently the illegal war in Iraq, which the Labour Party and the Conservatives dragged this country into?

“For goodness sake, the woman is overwrought, as indeed is David Cameron.”

Mr Salmond added: “The stars are coming into alignment and a group of Scottish MPs, of SNP MPs, could have a substantial influence at the House of Commons. Unfortunately that doesn’t happen very often.”

But he stressed the vote on 7 May was not a rerun of the independence referendum, saying: “The Westminster election is about getting more power for Scotland and helping people across the UK in terms of progressive politics.”

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said only the Liberal Democrats could prevent an “extreme coalition”.

Mr Clegg warned the Tories planned “brutal” cuts and Ukip leader Nigel Farage would be “sharpening George Osborne’s axe”. He said a Labour administration reliant on support from the SNP would result in “reckless” borrowing.