Starmer will U-turn on refusal to work with SNP at general election, Flynn says

Sir Keir Starmer will U-turn on his refusal to work with the SNP following the general election, the party’s Westminster leader Stephen Flynn has said.

The Labour leader has repeatedly ruled out working with the SNP if Labour do not achieve a majority government.

However, as projections following the local elections in England suggested Labour could struggle to gain an overall majority at Westminster, Mr Flynn said his party can hold the “balance of power”.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

It follows an appeal from the SNP to Labour and Liberal Democrat supporters to lend their votes to the nationalist party to “lock out the Tories”.

Speaking on BBC Radio’s Good Morning Scotland programme on Tuesday, Mr Flynn said Labour would have to give Holyrood independence referendum powers and put the cost-of-living crisis front and centre of policy in order to be propped up by the SNP.

He said: “I’m actually quite excited about where we are at the moment because what we see is a big shift away from the Conservatives in England, but it’s a shift that is not going to deliver a majority government for Labour at Westminster and that very much brings us into play because it affords us the opportunity, the very real opportunity, of holding the balance of power at Westminster.

“We would be very clear in terms of our asks. We would want the cost of living to be put front and centre of the policy prospectus of any UK government.

“We would want to see the damage that has been caused by Brexit rolled back, not just to boost our economy but to boost our public services as well.

“And of course, we would be very, very keen to see a UK government, particularly a UK Labour government, deliver the powers to Holyrood to hold an independence referendum.”

And while Sir Keir rejected calls to work with the SNP, Mr Flynn said the Labour leader had a track record of changing his mind.

He told the programme: “This is the same Keir Starmer who quite openly dropped his opposition to Brexit, he dropped his opposition to nationalisation, he dropped his opposition to scrapping tuition fees, and he dropped his opposition at the weekend to repealing anti-protest legislation.

“We know that Keir Starmer is desperate to be prime minister. The key thing here is that the Tories have continued to ignore Scotland – will Labour?”

“Keir Starmer is a man who has broken many of his pledges, not just to the Labour party but to the wider British public in order to try and become prime minister.

“He is not going to walk away from becoming prime minister simply to deny many of our asks.”

Scottish Tory chairman Craig Hoy said Sir Keir was “counting on some kind of backroom coalition or deal” to get into Downing Street, adding: “Stephen Flynn knows – as voters do – that Labour would cave into SNP demands for indyref2 if that was the price for getting the keys to Downing Street.”