Jeremy Corbyn would make ‘pact’ with SNP to be PM

Jeremy Corbyn speaks during an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, in Tavistock Square, London. Picture: PA
Jeremy Corbyn speaks during an event to mark the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima bomb, in Tavistock Square, London. Picture: PA
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Labour leadership frontrunner Jeremy Corbyn has signalled he would be willing to make a pact with the SNP to become prime minister.

The left-wing candidate, who has dominated the leadership contest since entering to “widen the debate”, raised the prospect of a new relationship with the Nationalists and Labour.

In many cases [Labour] are still pandering to the Tories

SNP spokesman

The stance would be a reversal of the position adopted by former leader Ed Miliband, who in the run-up to May’s general election said there would be “no deal, no pact, no coalition” with the SNP.

Mr Corbyn said: “If there isn’t a Labour majority but a minority and we’ve got to work with other parties on the basis of a day-to-day arrangement or a supply arrangement then do that. Now obviously you have got to work with other parties to get things through and I would be prepared to do that.”

The comments, in an interview with an online magazine, come after Mr Corbyn told The Scotsman’s sister paper Scotland on Sunday he would agree to an SNP proposal to stop nominating new peers for the House of Lords to undermine the legitimacy of the Upper Chamber.

Mr Corbyn has also led left-wing supporters through voting lobbies in the House of Commons with the SNP to oppose the Conservative government’s plans to slash welfare for working families, as the Labour leadership came under fire for ordering MPs to abstain on the vote.

Last night a spokeswoman for Mr Corbyn said: “Jeremy would definitely talk with the SNP.”

At the end of the election campaign, Mr Miliband insisted he would not enter Downing Street as prime minister if he had to rely on the support of SNP MPs to prop him up.

In a televised appeal to voters, he said: “I’m not going to have Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the SNP.”

Mr Corbyn’s comments were taken by the Nationalists yesterday as a sign that since the election the SNP has provided the main opposition to Conservative policies as Labour remains rudderless.

An SNP spokesman said: “Since the election in May, the SNP’s team of 56 MPs have proven to be the real opposition to the Tory government – leading the way on issues like fox hunting, human rights and ending austerity. But as we saw recently when Labour sat on their hands during the Finance Bill, it is clear in many cases that they are still pandering to the Tories rather than standing up to them.”

He added: “It is becoming increasingly clear that people in Scotland, and across the rest of the UK want an alternative to the austerity-driven ideology of the Tories.

“During the election campaign the SNP pledged to work with progressive forces across the UK to deliver this alternative – that is what we have been doing, and will continue to do.”

Mr Corbyn’s indication that he would be willing to do a pact with the SNP came amid 
further evidence yesterday that the 66-year-old Islington North MP’s brand of left-wing politics is shaping the leadership contest. Mr Corbyn has promised to renationalise major industries, raise taxes and reindustrialise parts of the UK.

One of his rivals, former health secretary Andy Burnham, launched his leadership manifesto yesterday which appeared to make a major play to supporters from the left of the party to back him instead of Mr Corbyn.

In the manifesto Mr Burnham, who is also competing with shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper and Blairite candidate Liz Kendall, pledged to renationalise the railways and end tuition fees for students.

He also said it was vital to “have a plan” for the public finances and the deficit but insisted Labour had to have a fundamentally different economic policy from the Conservatives if it wanted to cut through to voters.

Mr Burnham, who is the bookmakers’ favourite to win but expected to come second or third in the first round, said Mr Corbyn had “lifted the debate” in the Labour leadership contest by surging to the front of the race.

He said: “I am not saying you at a stroke of a pen try and renationalise the whole lot. I am saying as franchises expire, we should bring them back under public control.

“We saw that with the East Coast where the public sector ran the line for a period of time.”