Ed Miliband ‘will change his tune’ on SNP deal

ED MILIBAND will “change his tune” about ruling out a deal with the SNP when the results of the General Election are in, Nicola Sturgeon has predicted.

Nicola Sturgeon at the SNP General Election Manifesto launch. Picture: Gordon Fraser

The Scottish First Minister added that while the Labour leader might want a majority government at Westminster, all the polls indicate he will not achieve that aim.

Labour is expected to suffer heavy losses in Scotland - where it won 41 seats in 2010 - with forecasts suggesting Ms Sturgeon’s party could see as many as 50 MPs elected.

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After the Labour leader restated his opposition to doing any kind of deal with the SNP, Ms Sturgeon said “I suspect Ed Miliband will change his tune once the votes are cast..”

The latest set of UK-wide polls indicate that the General Election race is still neck-and-neck, with the country heading for a probable hung parliament and coalition negotiations after May 7.

Pressed 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.’’

The Labour leader told BBC1’s Andrew Marr Show: ‘’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.’’

But Ms Sturgeon told Sky News: “On May 8 once the votes are cast, once the people have cast their verdict, Ed Miliband, just like the rest of us, will have to respect the wishes of the people in a democratic election.

“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.

“If that remains the case on May 8 if he doesn’t have a majority, what he will be saying to the people is rather than work with the SNP if there is an anti-Tory majority, he’d rather watch David Cameron waltz back into Downing Street.

“I don’t want that and the SNP will use our votes to stop a Tory government getting off the ground if there is that anti-Tory majority.”

Ms Sturgeon added: “It’s the people who are in charge and the politicians have to respect the democratic wishes of the people, 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.”

The latest opinion poll in Scotland shows Labour remains on course for heavy losses to the Scottish nationalists in its heartlands north of the border - keeping hold of as few as five seats.

Just over a quarter (27%) of Scots say they will be voting for Labour in the election, according to the Panelbase poll for The Sunday Times, down two on earlier in the month, with the SNP up three points to stand at 48%.

With the election now less than two weeks away, the Prime Minister and other leading Tories have stepped up their attacks on the SNP.

David Cameron warned voters that they have ‘’11 days to save Britain’’ as he claimed Scottish nationalists ‘’don’t want the country to succeed’’.

In an escalation of his rhetoric about the dangers of the May 7 General Election producing a minority Labour government propped up by the Scottish National Party, he told the Sunday Express that nationalist MPs would be hoping for a ‘’disaster’’ which would bring forward their dream of independence.

Meanwhile, Conservative Home Secretary Theresa May told the Mail on Sunday that a Labour/SNP government could be ‘’the biggest constitutional crisis since the abdication’’, when King Edward VIII gave up the throne in 1936.

Ms Sturgeon said: “Theresa May has made herself look completely and utterly stupid with ridiculous over the top comments like that.

“This is the same Theresa May that tried to tell the people of Scotland during the referendum campaign that if we voted Yes we would lose our passports and have border controls.

“People will look at these silly comments, and I was going to say they will treat them with contempt, but that actually attaches too much seriousness to them. People will just laugh at her.”

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie also hit out at Conservative campaign tactics, accusing the party of stoking up English nationalism in a bid to win votes south of the border.

He said: “People who voted for Scotland to remain part of the UK, including Conservative voters, will be aghast at the hyperbolic rhetoric the Tories are using to stoke the fires of English nationalism.

“The Tories’ whole strategy is seeking to divide rather than unite. Their shameful tactics are putting party politics before the future of our country.

“We now have the SNP seeking to pull the union one way and the Tories putting party before country and pulling it in another direction.

“If you want to see a stronger Scotland in a strong UK - if you want unity and stability for Scotland - then you need to back the Liberal Democrats.”