Sturgeon says SNP will have ‘enormous clout’

NICOLA Sturgeon has set out how the SNP will have “enormous influence” at Westminster even if there is no formal deal with Labour after the election.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, with chef Andy Beattie, bakes scones during a visit to The Cook School in Kilmarnock, Ayrshire. Picture: Getty

The First Minister has said that the fixed term Parliament act means governments can be defeated on specific issues without being brought down.

She unveiled today how SNP MPs will push the UK government to fund 100,000 affordable homes across the UK per year as part of the party’s opposition to austerity.

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Labour leader Ed Miliband yesterday ruled out a formal deal with the SNP, in the face of Conservatives attempts to fuel fears south of the border over the prospect of Scottish nationalists holding influence at Westminster.

Ms Sturgeon has made it clear she would never back a Conservative government, meaning SNP support for Labour appears assured. But the First Minister insisted this does not leave the Nationalists’ hands effectively “tied” and insisted and they could still wield “enormous clout” in the event of a hung Parliament.

“Exercising influence in a Parliament is not just about the Queen’s Speech,” Ms Sturgeon told BBC Radio Four’s Today programme.

“It’s about how you exercise influence on an issue-by-issue, vote-by-vote basis throughout the entirety of a Parliament.

“This is important expertise the SNP could bring to bear, we have been a minority government. We know how it works, we know how to get things done and we also know the way in which compromises have to be struck - Ed Miliband can say what he wants right now, he’s entitled to do so, but he can’t deny reality.

“If there is a situation after the election where neither of the big parties has a majority then they will have to reflect how people have voted and they will have to on a practical level be prepared to talk to others and compromise with others in order to get their policies through.

“Whether that is part of a formal deal or on an issue-by-issue basis, it gives parties like the SNP enormous clout and enormous influence.”

She added: “Under the Fixed Term Parliaments Act it is possible for other parties to change the direction of a government without bringing a government down. That gives enormous influence.”