Friday 30 September 2016

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon denies saying she prefers David Cameron as PM to Labour rival

Reuters World Service

Published 04/04/2015 | 19:00

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on the General Election campaign trail in Glasgow Fort Shopping Park in the Glasgow East parliamentary seat. Photo: PA
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon on the General Election campaign trail in Glasgow Fort Shopping Park in the Glasgow East parliamentary seat. Photo: PA

The leader of the Scottish National Party, which could help decide who governs Britain after May's election, denied on Saturday that she had said privately she wanted David Cameron to remain prime minister rather than his main rival.

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Nicola Sturgeon, whose personal status has soared since an assured appearance in a major TV debate on Thursday, was said to have told the French ambassador to Britain in February that she would rather see Cameron remain in power over Labour leader Ed Miliband, the Daily Telegraph newspaper reported.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the debate (Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the debate (Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire)
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the 7-way televised leaders debate at the ITV studios (Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire)

She was also reported to have said she did not see Miliband as prime minister material.

Read more here: Nicola Sturgeon secretly backs David Cameron  

The issue is politically sensitive because the allegations could help Labour, whose vote in Scotland has slumped in the wake of an SNP onslaught, with its argument that voting SNP could lead to another Conservative-led government.

The Telegraph's assertion was based on a leaked memo written last month by a British civil servant who had spoken to the French Consul-General to get his account of the meeting between Sturgeon and the ambassador.

Labour leader Ed Miliband, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the 7-way televised leaders debate at the ITV studios in MediaCityUK in Salford (Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire)
Labour leader Ed Miliband, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and Prime Minister David Cameron during the 7-way televised leaders debate at the ITV studios in MediaCityUK in Salford (Ken McKay/ITV/REX/PA Wire)

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However, French officials involved and Sturgeon, Scotland's First Minister, have said the claims were incorrect.

"I'm saying these comments weren't made. The French Ambassador who I was talking to said these comments weren't made," Sturgeon told BBC TV.

"The French Consul-General who is reported to have said I said these things said he didn't say that, then the question of whether of not I said this should actually be put to one side."

Read more here: Keeping Britain in the EU is best for Ireland - so we need Conservatives to lose  

Britain's most senior civil servant later said there would be an inquiry into the source of the leak at Sturgeon's request.

Cameron's Conservatives are running neck and neck in the polls with Labour, and commentators predict that Sturgeon's surging SNP will win capture many Labour seats in Scotland meaning it could hold the balance of power in Westminster.

The Telegraph said the memo appeared to confirm speculation that the SNP wanted another Conservative-led government in London as that could boost support for her party's campaign for independence.

Read more here: No outright winner in TV leaders' debate on UK election  

Last September, Scots rejected voted 55-45 percent to stay part of the United Kingdom but there has been a surge of nationalism since then.

"I think these are damning revelations," Miliband told Sky News. "What it shows is that while in public the SNP are saying they don't want to see a Conservative government, in private they are actually saying they do want a Conservative government."

Sturgeon has ruled out propping up a minority Conservative government but said her party could support a Labour administration.

Reuters

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