Keir Starmer claims Nicola Sturgeon is pitting Scot against Scot
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Sir Keir Starmer has been accused by Conservative MPs of plotting a coalition deal with Nicola Sturgeon’s party in the event Labour wins the next general election in 2024. The Tories have been on the offensive about any possible pact as rumours circulate that the Prime Minister could call an early general election.
Last month, Boris Johnson claimed the main threat to Brexit freedoms would be the “disaster of a Labour and SNP coalition to take us back into the EU”.
Matt Hancock, the former health secretary, last week alleged that Sir Keir would make a “dirty deal with Nicola Sturgeon that breaks up the country” as he would fail to secure a majority on his own.
The First Minister announced this week that she will attempt to ensure a legal referendum on Scottish Independence can be held on October 19, 2023.
Will Labour and the SNP strike a deal?
Sir Keir is said to be in favour of ruling out a coalition with the SNP. The Labour leader will use a motion at his party’s conference in September to ensure his pledge not to grant Ms Sturgeon another vote.
The party has levelled up its opposition to the SNP in recent weeks, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar due to outline his policy vision on Monday.
Labour Party sources have confirmed this will be followed by a series of meetings at shadow cabinet and with MPs to firm up the party’s strategy in the face of an independence referendum.
Mr Sarwar is already firming up opposition to the SNP north of the border by blocking deals with the SNP.
Before May’s council elections he vetoed Labour coalitions, which forced local leaders to form minority administrations by arranging deals with other parties.
At the time of the referendum announcement, Mr Sarwar accused Ms Sturgeon of spending all of her time on the independence campaign and “breaking up our country and dividing our people”.
Labour MPs have also slammed the Tories allegations of a coalition.
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The shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said: “If the SNP want to vote with the Tories to bring down a future Labour government, as they did in 1979 to usher in 18 years of Thatcher, then that would be their choice.
“The Tories want to run these fake scaremongering campaigns, as they did in ‘15, ‘17 and ’19 because they have a dead duck leader and nothing to offer the people of this country.”
Sir Keir was previously warned to quash any talk of an SNP coalition as soon as possible.
Douglas Alexander, who was chair of general election strategy in 2015 and lost his seat to the SNP, was among those to call for early action.
He said in May: “Labour is in a stronger place to set out its position in relation to the SNP than it was in 2015.
“The SNP have long lost the momentum they enjoyed in the months following the 2014 independence referendum.
“My own instinct is that Labour can deal with the issue early by saying clearly in Scotland and across Britain that the way to get a Labour government is straightforward … vote for a Labour MP.
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