Balls said that there would be an “absolute 100 per cent total firewall” between the SNP and a Labour budget. The party is determined to fight back against Conservative claims that it could do a post-election deal with the SNP.
A senior Labour party source told City A.M. that in the event of Labour winning the most MPs yet falling short of a majority, it would form a minority government in the belief that the SNP would not dare to bring it down and risk ushering the Tories back into power.
“Do it if you dare,” the source warned, referring to the prospect of SNP MPs voting against a Queen’s Speech proposed by Labour.
“The SNP would have to go back and explain to Scotland why they’re letting the Tories in through the back door.”
If Labour was thwarted by the SNP, it could result in the party being replaced by the Conservatives, either in minority or after a second poll.
That series of events would be likely to help Scottish Labour’s campaign in the Holyrood elections that are taking place next year, which are hotly contested between the SNP and Labour.
Earlier in the day, Balls insisted that only the Labour leadership will write their Budget. “The first Budget will be written by Ed Miliband and me, and not by Nicola Sturgeon or Nigel Farage or anyone else,” he told Sky.
Political tensions have been heighted north of the border, where polls show the SNP on course to win a record number of Westminster seats.
Miliband has previously said that there would be no SNP ministers in a government he led. However, yesterday a shadow cabinet member did not appear to rule out a less formal arrangement between the parties.
Shadow leader of the house, Angela Eagle said in a BBC interview yesterday: “We’ll speak to any party that has got representation in the House of Commons in order to try to build a majority for a Queen’s Speech that the country desperately needs.”
Responding, defence secretary Michael Fallon said: “Miliband’s campaign is in chaos. In interviews Shadow Cabinet ministers cannot give a straight answer to whether they would do a deal with the SNP.”
Prime Minister David Cameron had called on Miliband to “rule out any sort of arrangement” in an earlier interview with the BBC.
The PM also said: “He [Ed Miliband] is saying the only way he can become Prime Minister, because of the wipe-out of Labour, is by being supported by the SNP.”
Also speaking on the BBC, Sturgeon refused to rule out a second Scottish independence referendum: “Why I fall short of categorically ruling it out is I don’t think as a single politician I have got the right to do that,” she said.
The SNP will today launch its manifesto. Ahead of that the party revealed a new poster showing Sturgeon vowing to make Scotland stronger at Westminster. “Our message is that if people vote SNP they get SNP – and more importantly they get policies at Westminster on the economy, health, Trident and across all areas that deliver real change and real progress,” said a senior SNP campaign source.
Visit our General Election poll tracker to see how the polls changed in the build-up to election day.