Keir Starmer Refuses Seven Times To Rule Out A Deal With The Liberal Democrats
Lib Dem leader Sir Ed Davey talks with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in Westminster Abbey ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III.
Keir Starmer has refused seven times to rule out forming a coalition with the Liberal Democrats during an excruciating exchange.
The Labour leader quickly ruled out any deal with the Scottish National Party but dodged the question when asked by Sky’s Beth Rigby about the Lib Dems.
Last week’s local election results point to a hung parliament at the next general election. They suggest Labour could end up being the largest party, but short of a majority.
It could be similar to the situation the Tories found themselves in in 2010 when they formed a coalition government with the Lib Dems.
One irony of the developing Conservative attack that Labour will form a chaotic coalition with the Lib Dems is that of the 4 kinds of Conservative government since 2010 - coalition with Lib Dems, small majority, minority, large majority - the coalition was by far the most stable
— Henry Zeffman (@hzeffman) May 9, 2023
Asked if Lib Dem leader Ed Davey is a man he could “do business with”, Starmer told Sky News: “I’m going for an outright majority, and I’m often asked ‘will you do a deal with the SNP’ and I’ve been absolutely clear, there are no terms on which we would do a deal with the SNP. I want to push on to a Labour majority.”
Pressed again, Beth Rigby asked: “What about the Lib Dems?”
Starmer replied: “I’m not answering hypotheticals…we are aiming for a Labour majority.”
Rigby asked again: “OK, so you are ruling out a deal with the SNP on any terms, but you are not ruling out a deal with the Lib Dems?”
Starmer dodged the question again: “Well, as you know with the SNP, it’s a fundamental difference. I do not believe in the breakup and separation of the United Kingdom. I do not believe that our future will be better off if we put a border between Scotland and England…”
Rigby interrupted: “But just to be clear, you’re ruling out any sort of arrangement with the SNP and you are not doing that with the Liberal Democrats?”
Starmer replied: “I’m clear I’m pressing on, I want a Labour majority government.”
Could we see a similar scenario to the 2010 election but with Labour forming a coalition with the Lib Dems?
Rigby: “So you aren’t ruling it out? Because, the reason I ask is that last year you said you would not go into coalition with anyone - including the Lib Dems. You said that in an interview with Bloomberg. So you’ve slightly changed your position?”
Starmer replied: “No, I’ve said throughout, and actually from the day I took over as leader that I want to go for a Labour majority government, because that’s the way we can deliver change…”
Rigby asked again: “Last year you said you wouldn’t have any formal arrangement with the Liberal Democrats, and you would rule out any arrangement, confidence and supply, formal, informal. And just to be really clear, it’s very important, you’re not saying that today?”
Starmer repeated that he wants a “clear majority Labour government” before Rigby told him: “You haven’t answered my question: Are you prepared to come to some sort of arrangement if necessary, informal or formal, with the Liberal Democrats?”
Starmer eventually replied: “Look, Beth, you can ask me as many times as you like…”
Rigby told him he would not answer before Starmer insisted again he is “pressing on for a Labour majority”.
Davey similarly refused to rule out entering into a coalition with Labour during interviews over the weekend.
Asked on the BBC’s Sunday With Laura Kuenssberg show, he said: “That is a hypothetical question because we don’t know what’s going to happen after the next election.”
Put to him that he was ruling out working with the Tories but not Labour, said: “The focus is on getting rid of Conservative MPs. I make no apology for that.”
Thursday’s results were disastrous for the Tories who lost nearly one thousand seats and control of nearly 50 councils.
It means Labour is now the largest party of local government - overtaking the Conservatives for the first time since 2002.
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