Sir Keir Starmer says ‘no way’ to General Election deals with the SNP

Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer has firmly ruled out any deals with the SNP after July’s General Election, insisting there is “no way” his party could work with Scottish nationalists.

Sir Keir was adamant he would not work with the SNP, even if the July 4 election fails to result in an overall majority for Labour.

His comments came as he campaigned in the Glasgow East constituency, one of the Scottish seats Labour will be hoping to win from the SNP come polling day.

Sir Keir Starmer said the ‘only ambition’ of SNP – led by John Swinney – is to ‘break up the UK’ (Michael Boyd/PA)
Sir Keir Starmer said the ‘only ambition’ of SNP – led by John Swinney – is to ‘break up the UK’ (Michael Boyd/PA)

But asked if he could work with John Swinney’s party in the event of a hung parliament, Sir Keir made clear there would be “absolutely no deal with the SNP”.

He said there would “obviously” be no deal in advance of the election but added there would be “no deal the other side of the election, under any circumstances”.

The Labour leader added: “That’s not just a question of mathematics, that is because there is no way an incoming Labour government could ever work in any way with the SNP, whose only ambition is to break up the United Kingdom.”

His comments came as Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told journalists the party was hoping to have a “significant cohort” of MPs from north of the border after July 4.

In the last general election in 2019 Labour won just one constituency in Scotland, though recently polls have shown support for the party rising, in some cases putting support for Sir Keir’s party ahead of the SNP.

Mr Sarwar, asked how many seats in Scotland the party could win this time, said: “I’ve got an old fashioned view, which is the more people you persuade to vote for you the more seats you win.”

While he said Labour had “come a long way” in doing that, he said that they had “still got more persuasion to do”.

But the Scottish Labour leader added: “We want to build a significant cohort of Scottish Labour MPs to get us over the line, to make sure we deliver a UK Labour government, but even more importantly go there to sit on the government benches, be round the table making decisions for the Scottish people.”

Sir Keir meanwhile stressed he wanted his party to take “every seat we are capable of winning here in Scotland”.

He stressed that while the “numbers really matter” it was also important to him to be a leader for all parts of the UK.

He said: “This is also personal. If I am privileged enough to come in and serve as the UK prime minister, I want to be the UK prime minister for the whole of the United Kingdom and that includes Scotland.

“Over and above the numbers, having strong Labour representation from Scotland sitting on the government benches matters to me in terms of the way I want to govern, which is for Scotland and with Scotland.

“Yes, the numbers are important, but there is something very deep about the way I see politics, which is also about the type of government we want to form.”

The First Minister was later asked for his views on Mr Starmer’s comments on not considering a deal with the SNP.

Mr Swinney said the comment was “not a great start” from the Labour leader, stating it sounds “like a continuation of where the Conservatives have left off”.

He said: “I’m leading a government that is constructive that wants to engage about areas where we can advance our agenda, and I think there will be a lot of areas where, through cooperation, we can bring to an end austerity, we can secure the investment that’s necessary in our public services, we can repair a fractured relationship with Europe, which is now causing such economic damage to the country.”

He added that “it would be good to hear from the Labour Party that they’re prepared also to engage” but “this kind of posturing from Keir Starmer, I don’t think really helps to bring people together in common purpose, which is very much the theme of my government – to bring people together in common purpose to deliver an agenda that will benefit people in our country.”