LONDON — The Scottish National Party is prepared to form a “progressive alliance” that keeps the Conservatives out of office, its leader Nicola Sturgeon said today.
Launching the party’s manifesto in Glasgow, Sturgeon pitched the SNP as the only kingmaker party that would keep the Tories out of Downing Street following the U.K.’s December election.
If there is a hung parliament, the SNP is willing to support Labour in exchange for a referendum on Scottish independence next year. Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said last week that a second ballot would not be a priority for at least the first two or three years of a Labour government.
Sturgeon would also push for a funding plan for Scotland covering three core demands. First, reversing £1.5 billion cuts to the Scottish budget and increasing the budget in real terms; second, a plan to compensate for the last decade of austerity; and third, a demand for the U.K. government to increase per-head NHS funding south of the border to levels seen in Scotland, which it says is currently £136 per person higher. This increase in health spending in England would result in additional money for the Scottish NHS under the Barnett formula, which pegs public expenditure in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales to levels in England.
Nicola Sturgeon pitched the SNP as the only kingmaker party that would keep the Tories out of Downing Street following the U.K.’s December election.
In exchange for her party’s support, Sturgeon would also demand the removal of the Trident nuclear deterrent from Scotland, and use the money currently spent on the program for the NHS and other public services. Labour has promised to renew the Trident program in its manifesto.
“There is every chance that the SNP could hold the balance of power at Westminster. Unlike the Liberal Democrats, we will never, ever help the Tories into government. But we will be prepared to talk to other parties about forming a progressive alliance,” Sturgeon said.
The SNP won 35 of the 59 Scottish seats at the 2017 general election — 21 seats down from the 56 they won in 2015.
The 52-page document, titled “Stronger for Scotland,” also calls for the devolution of employment and drugs laws to the Scottish parliament, and proposes a NHS Protection Act to guarantee that future trade deals will not “undermine the founding principles of the NHS or open it up to profit-driven exploitation.”
The party said it would support a second EU referendum with the option to Remain in the European Union on the ballot paper. The party would be in favor of canceling Brexit altogether if that was the only alternative to a no-deal Brexit, it adds.
The SNP leader attacked the Westminster parties, saying they “have delivered no stability, but constant chaos and three U.K. general elections.”
Conservative-led governments, Sturgeon said, have broken all their promises to Scotland, including staying in the EU and treating Scotland as an equal partner.
Sturgeon claimed that unless Boris Johnson is stopped from being re-elected prime minister, he would deliver “Tory cuts to the Scottish budget, the NHS under threat from a Tory-Trump trade deal, a power grab on the Scottish parliament, children being forced into poverty and a disastrous Brexit deal.”
Jeremy Corbyn’s decision to stay neutral in a second Brexit referendum means the Labour leader “is neutral on job losses, cuts to living standards and the erosion of our rights,” Sturgeon said. “And of course he would be happy to sit back to see Scotland taken out of the EU even if there is a majority for Remain in Scotland but not in the U.K. as a whole.”
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