Election 2019: Could Nicola Sturgeon agree a deal with Labour?

Sarah Smith
Scotland editor
@BBCsarahsmithon Twitter

  • Published
Nicola SturgeonImage source, AFP
Image caption,
Brexit was very much the word of the day at the SNP manifesto launch

There are only two headlines that really matter from the SNP manifesto. The party wants to stop Brexit and have another referendum on Scottish independence.

But you can't make a manifesto out of just those two pledges, so there are plenty of other promises too.

Like three months of "Daddy leave", 12 weeks of parental leave ring fenced for the father to take.

A proposal for an NHS Protection Act to guarantee that trade deals will not undermine the founding principles of the health service.

And a plan to ring-fence oil and gas revenues to pay for climate change measures.

The SNP are not pretending that there is any chance they could form a government in Westminster, no matter how many seats they win.

So Nicola Sturgeon admits these pledges can only be met if this election produces a hung parliament, if Labour are the largest party (the SNP say they would never support the Tories in power), if the SNP hold the balance of power, and if they can agree a deal with Jeremy Corbyn.

Ms Sturgeon has already ruled out a formal coalition with Labour, saying she favours a "progressive alliance" with like minded parties.

In those circumstances the most important ask for Nicola Sturgeon is getting Mr Corbyn to agree to a second independence referendum. Without that any kind of deal would be unthinkable.

Image source, AFP
Image caption,
How many conditions will Nicola Sturgeon set for doing a deal to put Jeremy Corbyn in Downing Street?

At the moment they are at odds over the timing of such a vote.

The SNP say it should be for the people in Scotland to decide when that happens, and have indicated they want "indyref2" in 2020.

That could be problem, as Labour have insisted there cannot be another vote in the first couple of years of a Labour government.

So is there some wiggle room on the timing? Not according to the party leader. In an interview with the BBC, Ms Sturgeon insists that the Scottish Parliament must be allowed to hold that vote in 2020, no ifs or buts.

Other demands

She has also laid down other demands she says must be met before she could support a Labour government.

SNP demands to end austerity and abolish Universal Credit are already in line with what Labour is promising UK wide, so there should be no problem there.

They would have to negotiate hard on demands for more powers for Holyrood over immigration policy and drug laws.

The demand to scrap the UK's Trident nuclear weapons might be the most difficult. That may be exactly what Jeremy Corbyn personally would dearly love to do, but it's not Labour Party policy.

Speaking to me after the manifesto launch, Nicola Sturgeon did not insist that all nuclear weapons leave Scotland by the end of the first term of a Labour government - only that a decision was made not to renew our nuclear deterrent.

To fulfil her pledge to "stop Brexit", Nicola Sturgeon has to help Mr Corbyn into power so he can implement his policy of re-negotiating the EU Withdrawal Agreement and then holding another Brexit referendum within six months.

It is the only way she can try to stop Brexit. But can she agree a deal with Labour that will let that happen?

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