SNP's Nicola Sturgeon calls for pact with Labour to oust Cameron
Nicola Sturgeon has issued a public appeal to Ed Miliband to join with the SNP in "locking David Cameron out of 10 Downing Street".
Her latest move follows several roller-coaster days for Scotland's First Minister during which she was acclaimed for her performance in last Thursday evening's leaders' debate, but then had to spend a day trying to quash a report that she secretly hoped to see Mr Cameron returned to Downing Street on the grounds that Mr Miliband is "not Prime Minister material".
The SNP leader suggested that it would be "no bad thing for democracy" if no party emerged from the general election with an outright Commons majority, because it would give the SNP leverage to prevent what she called the "cuts consensus" of the three major parties and get the government to "invest sensibly".
She added: "I repeat my challenge to Ed Miliband: if together our parties have the numbers required after May 7, and regardless of which is the biggest party, will he and Labour join with us in locking David Cameron out of Downing Street?"
The offer drew condemnation from the Chancellor George Osborne - though he concentrated his fire on Labour for allegedly contemplating a deal with the SNP rather than on Ms Sturgeon.
He said: "The fact that the Labour Party, that was a party that campaigned for the Union in the referendum, is contemplating an arrangement with the SNP, who want to break up the country, is deeply disturbing."
Ms Sturgeon insisted that it was "100% untrue" that she was secretly rooting for a Tory victory.
The story emerged in the form of a leaked civil service memo describing what was allegedly said during a meeting with the French ambassador.
But suspicions lingered in Labour circles yesterday that it would suit the SNP if the Conservatives stayed in office, increasing the chances that a second referendum would produce a majority for independence.
A Labour source said: "No one will ever know for certain what went on between Nicola Sturgeon and the French ambassador, but what we do know is that the Tories are desperate for the SNP to do well, and the SNP are happy to see another Tory government."