SNP and Labour could form 'progressive alliance'

7 August 2019, 17:08 | Updated: 7 August 2019, 17:10


Nicola Sturgeon has said Labour is the "stumbling block" to forming a progressive alliance to halt the Conservatives.

The First Minister said she does not envisage any formal coalition with Labour but wants the SNP to be part of a "progressive alternative" to the Tories at Westminster.

Her comments came as shadow chancellor John McDonnell ruled out forming a pact with the SNP, saying they are not progressive and are "Tories".

Ms Sturgeon said during 2015 and 2017 General Elections she wanted her party to be "part of a progressive alliance against the Conservatives" if the post-election arithmetic lent itself to this.

"I think it's even more important now that we try to build that kind of progressive alliance that gets the Tories out because they are intent on taking the country down a catastrophic Brexit path," she said.

"So my position hasn't changed - I don't envisage any formal coalition with Labour but I want the SNP to be part of efforts to get things on to a better track than they are on now.

"The stumbling block to that is Labour - Labour are still on the fence on Brexit and Jeremy Corbyn is abdicating his position of leadership by not giving that clear direction.

"So we need to get Labour off the fence and then we can look to stopping Boris Johnson in his tracks, hopefully."

Mr McDonnell, speaking at an event at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, repeated his assertion that any request to hold a second Scottish independence referendum should not be blocked - putting him at odds with Scottish Labour policy.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard met the shadow chancellor on Wednesday and "made clear to him that a second independence referendum is unwanted by the people of Scotland and it is unnecessary".

Ms Sturgeon said: "John McDonnell's comments, as far as I'm concerned, are a statement of basic democracy.

"He said that it should be for the Scottish Parliament to decide the timing of an independence referendum and it should be for the Scottish people to decide if Scotland becomes independent or not.

"I'm surprised that anybody thinks that is a controversial statement - it is basic democracy.

"Westminster governments are perfectly entitled to argue against independence and seek to persuade Scotland not to make that choice but they're not entitled to block the right of the Scottish people to choose."

Speaking at the official opening of a new renewable energy scheme in Stirling, the SNP leader added: "If you look at the poll this week, in Scotland, Labour don't have that many voters left at all but of those they do have left, according to that poll 40% or so support independence so the position John McDonnell stated seems to me to be a politically sensible one from Labour's perspective.

"The fact that Scottish Labour seems so opposed to it can only suggest that they are determined to continue their downward spiral that they've been on for the last few years.

"It seems to me to be inexplicable."