Starmer: Labour will make no election deal with SNP under any circumstances

Sir Keir Starmer has said Labour will not do a deal with the SNP under any circumstances (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)
Sir Keir Starmer has said Labour will not do a deal with the SNP under any circumstances (Peter Byrne/PA) (PA Wire)

Sir Keir Starmer has categorically ruled out a Labour election pact with the SNP, insisting: “No deal under any circumstances.”

The Labour leader claimed Scotland’s success in the UK is “met with gritted teeth” and viewed as a “roadblock to independence” by the SNP.

Scotland needs a Labour Government that can deliver change but also “power and resources to shape its own future”, Sir Keir said.

He delivered a firm declaration that he believes Labour’s route to securing power in Westminster will not involve SNP support, although the party currently has just one MP in Scotland.

The challenges we face: the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, standing up to Putin, are common across our four nations

Sir Keir Starmer, Labour leader

It is widely accepted Labour will need to make significant gains in Scotland to avoid relying on the support of others to form a government.

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar earlier said Labour in Scotland will not be a “drag” on the party’s ticket at the next election.

SNP Westminster deputy leader Kirsten Oswald accused Sir Keir of failing to set out “anything new or of substance” to Scotland in his speech to the Labour Party conference.

She added the Labour Party is “adopting the Tories’ extreme Brexit” and “denying” the people of Scotland their “democratic right to choose their own future”.

Speaking in Liverpool, Sir Keir said: “The challenges we face: the cost-of-living crisis, climate change, standing up to Putin, are common across our four nations.

“We saw off the threat of fascism and deadly disease, together. We built the NHS and the welfare state, together. But I don’t believe in our union just because of our history. I believe in it because of our future.”

He added: “Scotland needs a Labour government that can deliver change. But it also needs the power and resources to shape its own future, whoever’s in power in Westminster. And the SNP are not interested in this.

“For them, Scotland’s success in the UK is met with gritted teeth, seen as a roadblock to independence, and so, they stand in the way. We can’t work with them. We won’t work with them. No deal under any circumstances.

“A fairer, greener, more dynamic Scotland. In a fairer, greener, more dynamic, Labour Britain.”

Ms Oswald replied in a statement: “Keir Starmer’s remarks not only failed to set out anything new or of substance to Scotland, they also reaffirmed yet again that only with independence will we be able to escape damaging Westminster control and repeated Tory governments for good.

“You don’t beat the Tories by turning into them but that’s exactly what the Labour Party is doing under Starmer’s leadership by adopting the Tories’ extreme Brexit, denying the people of Scotland’s democratic right to choose their own future, and prioritising grubby council coalitions with the Tories across Scotland.

“Meanwhile, rehashed reports of constitutional tinkering provide absolutely no protection against Westminster austerity, naked power grabs and repeated Tory Governments we don’t vote for.

“While Labour has slid into irrelevance in Scotland, the SNP will continue to stand up for Scotland’s interests.”

Labour has been in decline in Scotland over the past decade, falling to third place in Holyrood and in local authorities before their fortunes were reversed at this year’s council elections.

At Westminster, only Ian Murray represents the party north of the border.

Scottish Labour MSP Mr Sarwar earlier told the BBC the party would see a resurgence in Scotland.

“I’m not going to put a number on it, but I want us to make significant gains,” he said on Good Morning Scotland on Tuesday.

“If we look at the council election results, we were in the game in around 13, 14 seats. If that council election was reflected – I’m not saying we would have won 13, 14 seats – we were in the game in 13, 14 seats.

“I think in the context of a UK government where we’re not just going to oppose the Tories, we’re going to replace them, I genuinely believe we can make significant gains.

“I think Scotland is not going to be the drag on the ticket – Scotland’s not going to be what stop us from having a UK Labour government.

“Scotland’s going to help us deliver that UK Labour government.”