LONDON (Reuters) – Britain’s opposition Labour Party has ruled out a deal with Scottish leader Nicola Sturgeon that would deliver a second referendum on independence for Scotland as the price of her support for a Labour government, the Times newspaper reported.
Labour finance spokesman John McDonnell was quoted in Saturday’s Times as saying there would be no bartering with Sturgeon to win the support of her Scottish National Party (SNP) lawmakers.
“We wouldn’t have a deal with other political parties,” he said. “We believe we will win the next election with a handsome majority.”
Speculation about a possible deal with the SNP has grown since Sturgeon held talks with the Labour leadership last month in London to identify common ground on an alternative to Prime Minister Theresa May’s plan for leaving the European Union.
May faces fierce opposition in parliament to her plan and political analysts have said she might even step down if she is decisively beaten in a vote on the issue due on Dec. 11.
The independence-minded SNP, the ruling party in Scotland’s devolved legislature in Edinburgh, have 35 seats in Britain’s 650-seat lower house of parliament.
The price of their support for a Labour government would likely be an end to May’s block on a second Scottish independence referendum after the 2014 vote in which Scots voted to remain in the United Kingdom.
McDonnell said that even if Labour failed to win a majority in any general election it would form a minority government if it ended up being the largest party.
“We will bring forward our transformative programme and if other parties support it that’s up to them,” he added.
(Reporting by Stephen Addison; Editing by Mark Heinrich)