Alex Salmond has warned that he could sabotage a Labour budget if the Scottish National Party holds the balance of power after May’s knife edge election, and if Labour refuses to provide the concessions he wants.
The former Scottish First Minister said that in the event of Labour not having a majority, and Ed Balls including policies in a Budget the SNP did not support, he would “propose an amendment to [that] Budget.”
He cited the example of pushing for a new high-speed rail to Scotland and the north of England instead of from London, which he believes “would carry the House of Commons”.
Predicting big SNP gains in May, Salmond added: “Hopefully that decisive block of SNP MPs will move the Labour party in a different direction and I think many people south of the border would like to see that as well.”
Leaders of Labour and the SNP have both ruled out the possibility of the parties working together in Westminster in a formal coalition, but have not rejected the possibility of collaborating as part of a looser arrangement. SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has spoken of working with others to “lock out the Tories”.
A Labour spokesman commented: “As Ed Miliband made clear Labour will not go into coalition government with the SNP. There will be no SNP ministers in any government Ed Miliband leads.”
Scottish Labour is also emphasising the pressure the SNP would be under not to bring down a Labour government. Leader Jim Murphy said in an interview that the SNP would have “no bargaining chips available”.
John Lamont, Scottish Conservative chief whip, hit back at Salmond’s comments, made during an interview with the BBC’s Andrew Marr. He said: “Alex Salmond is taking the votes of people in Scotland for granted and planning back-room deals with Labour from a TV sofa in London. Even for him, this is stunning arrogance. Now he is talking up the prospect of a vote-by-vote deal with Labour – one Ed Miliband still refuses to rule out.”