Saturday 21 April 2018

Miliband indicates he will work with the SNP after UK election

Labour leader Ed Miliband is prepared to work with the SNP after the general election
Labour leader Ed Miliband is prepared to work with the SNP after the general election

Peter Dominiczak London

Ed Miliband has indicated for the first time that his party is prepared to work with SNP MPs on a vote-by-vote basis after the general election.

The Labour leader used a BBC 'Question Time' debate on Thursday to insist to voters that his party will not do deals or coalitions with Nicola Sturgeon's party.

However, that commitment appeared to unravel just hours later as Mr Miliband and two of his most senior shadow cabinet ministers conceded that Labour could have to work with SNP MPs in the event of another hung Parliament.

Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, said that "of course" there will be "dialogue" with Ms Sturgeon in order to get policies through the House of Commons.

Asked by Sky News if he could be reliant on the support of Scottish nationalist MPs to get through legislation after the election, Mr Miliband said: "It will always be a matter for the House of Commons how they vote on the queen's speech, for example.

"But what I want to indicate very clearly to the British people, is that the Conservatives are perpetuating a falsehood which is somehow there's going to be some coalition or deal between ourselves and the SNP. I'm fighting the SNP. That's not going to happen."

Both Mr Burnham and Caroline Flint, the shadow energy secretary, also said there will be talks with the SNP after the general election.

Asked if there will be "dialogue" with Ms Sturgeon in order to get laws through the House of Commons if Labour does not have a majority, Mr Burnham said: "Of course."

He said: "Parties talk in the House of Commons about government business, that's what happens, all parties talk."

Mr Burnham was then asked by the BBC interviewer: "You hinted that there would have to be dialogue with other parties, and maybe parties which have members that speak with Scottish accents... How would that work? Would you a have a meeting with Nicola Sturgeon? Be honest with us, a phone call?"

Mr Burnham replied: "Well, I was being honest, I was giving you a statement of fact."

The comments will intensify Conservative attacks that Labour will be "held to ransom" by Ms Sturgeon and Alex Salmond after the election.

Ms Flint said: "What [Miliband] ruled out was this idea that, somehow, to have a Labour government we're prepared to do a coalition or some other kind of confidence and supply deal [with the SNP].

"But, at the end of the day, whoever forms a government, parties will get a chance to vote for a queen's speech, vote for budgets, and vote for policies, that's the same with any government." (© Daily Telegraph, London)

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