Labour deal a 'match made in hell'
A government partnership between Labour and the Scottish National Party following the General Election would be a "match made in hell" for the UK economy, Prime Minister David Cameron has warned.
Speaking as the SNP launched its manifesto for the May 7 poll, Mr Cameron warned that voters could be "sleepwalking" towards an outcome which would put government into deadlock and bring recovery to a halt.
He issued an appeal to people considering a protest vote, or those who have previously sworn that they would never back the Tories, to vote Conservative in order to prevent an alliance between "Labour and the SNP - the party that would bankrupt our country and the party that would break up our country".
Mr Cameron's warning came as he set out plans for a new "Carlisle principle" under which the UK Government would carry out regular reviews to ensure that actions taken by the Scottish administration under devolved powers do not have a detrimental impact on the rest of the UK.
But SNP First Minister Nicola Sturgeon made clear she would resist the plan, telling her party's manifesto launch in Edinburgh: "Let me say this to David Cameron - we will oppose any effort to undermine the Scottish Parliament."
In a bid for support from the regions, Mr Cameron pledged that a Tory government would set a goal that 60% of new jobs should be created outside London and the South-East - a target which he said the coalition had achieved over the past five years.
And he warned that the SNP would use any influence it had over a minority Labour administration to shift investment in jobs, roads and railways north of the border and away from the English regions.
Speaking in Crewe - a marginal Conservative seat which will provide a significant hub for the planned HS2 high-speed railway - Mr Cameron said: "Make no mistake, if Labour and the SNP get into power, you are going to see an alliance between a party that wants to spend, borrow and tax more, with a party that wants to spend, borrow and tax even more.
"It might be a match made in heaven for them but it is a match made in hell for the British economy.
"You would see our deficit climbing up again, spending on welfare soaring again, businesses crushed again, jobs lost again. W ith Labour and the SNP, our economy will head into ruin again. And who will pay? You will pay - in higher taxes."
Mr Cameron added: "Our economic recovery didn't happen by accident, but it could end by accident. I want to appeal to everyone - those wondering how to cast their vote, if you've voted Conservative before or never voted before or swear you'd never vote Tory, please think very carefully about the national outcome you want and how your vote really does affect that outcome.
"Because when you make your mark on that ballot paper, you are writing the future of Britain in permanent ink.
"Labour and the SNP - the party that would bankrupt our country and the party that would break up our country, g overnment in deadlock, our economy heading for ruin. Is that what you want? A vote for anyone other than the Conservatives will deliver it."
Mr Cameron's speech came as London Mayor Boris Johnson warned that giving the SNP a role in the government of the UK would be like recruiting the child-killing King Herod to "run a baby farm".
During another hectic day of campaigning, the Conservative leader insisted he will honour the vow made during the Scottish referendum to devolve more powers north of the border.
But he said a Tory government would also conduct an annual review of the impact of devolved policies across the UK, with the Chancellor having to report to Parliament on how he will mitigate any harm to England, Wales or Northern Ireland.
"It will look at what effect Scottish government policies are having - whether it's changes to tax rates, business rates, or university tuition fees or Scotland's powers over energy, agriculture, transport, and public services," he said.
" To be absolutely clear, this is not about a UK Government stopping the Scottish Government from using its powers as it sees fit or to do things differently ... This is about making sure we understand the impact that devolution is having, and make sure that rest of the country never unwittingly loses out."
Mr Cameron warned that investment south of the border would be at risk if the SNP was able to wield influence over Ed Miliband in a minority Labour administration.
"It doesn't take a genius to work out what the SNP will demand," said the Tory leader. " That high-speed rail link? Only if you start it in Scotland. Those new trains? Cancel them. Those road upgrades? Forget it.
"In case you think Ed Miliband is going to stand valiantly in the way of the SNP's plans - wrong. J udge him by what he's already done. He has already sacrificed the A27 and Taunton link road. And we know why - because he has no political interest in these areas.
"So what next? What will he sacrifice here in Crewe to placate the SNP? Vital road upgrades to the M6 and M56? The University Technical College we plan to build here? Our £600 million plan for a Northern Hub to connect up our great Northern cities? ... E ven High Speed 2 - which could secure Crewe's place as the gateway to the North - that could go."
Mr Cameron stressed his commitment to growth in all parts of the UK: "We will back business to create two million new jobs. And this is my goal - that more than 60% of these will be outside London and the South East. That is what we've done in the last parliament.
"Because my vision has always been of a truly balanced economy, one built to last, one which is seen not just on the screens of the traders in the City of London but in the great manufacturing plants of the West Midlands and North East, i n tech start-ups from Dundee to Manchester, in the tourist and defence industries of the South West and Wales, the life sciences labs of the East of England - a truly national recovery."
Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the Tories were focusing on the possible influence the SNP may have on a Labour administration because they had realised their own campaign was "flatlining".
He declined to say whether Labour would contemplate a deal with Ms Sturgeon, insisting the party was fighting for an absolute majority.
Mr Burnham told Sky News: "It suits her interests and the Tories' to talk up all these potential deals after May 7. I think it's a bit disrespectful and will turn the public off from this election campaign."
Scotland's Deputy First Minister John Swinney said: " When the Scottish Government has balanced the books every year, it is insulting to the parliament to say a UK government which has run up £1.5 trillion of debt should check our sums.
"This clearly shows why we need a strong team of SNP MPs to speak up for Scotland and to protect the parliament itself."
Ms Sturgeon said Mr Cameron's comments were "born out of panic and desperation on the part of the Prime Minister"
The SNP leader continued: "I also think they will appal people across Scotland, they're a clear attempt to undermine the principle and the practice of devolution."
On the PM's proposed "Carlisle principle", Ms Sturgeon said: "If Scotland chooses, as it is democratically entitled to do, to make its voice heard by voting SNP, then it is completely outrageous and unaccceptable for any Westminster politician to say to Scotland 'that's not acceptable'.
"It's tantamount to saying 'your voice will be heard as long as you vote the way we want you to vote'."
She added that the Tory leader was "making a huge tactical and strategic mistake" by assuming that people across the UK are fearful of the impact of the SNP
"My expereince is people across the rest of the UK are as hungry and restless for progressive change as people in Scotland are," she said.
"I think we can play a positive part in helping to bring about that change."
Mr Cameron said the "stakes have just got much, much higher" in the election because of the SNP's polling figures north of the border.
"The prospects of an SNP-Ed Miliband government are very frightening for the reasons I have given," he added.
Asked whether interest rates could be forced up due to panicky reaction to a Labour-SNP administration, Mr Cameron said: "Yes, there would be I believe great instability, great uncertainty, because Britain would have a dysfunctional government."
Pressed on whether it was his fault that the Tories had not made more ground during the campaign so far, Mr Cameron said: "I take personal responsibility for everything in this campaign and everything that happens in this country - I am the Prime Minister and leader of the Conservative Party."
The premier later spoke to activists at Christleton School in Chester along with Stephen Mosley - who is defending a 2,500 Tory majority in the seat.
Surrounded by people waving placards, Mr Cameron said he had a "positive message" about "sticking to the long-term economic plan that is just beginning to deliver for our country".
Mr Cameron delivered his stump speech to activists at Sandymoor school in the Weaver Valley constituency, the Warrington Town FC ground, and Hughes Safety Showers in Stockport.
By the time he reached Stockport he was brandishing a printed copy of the SNP manifesto to emphasise his argument about the threat they pose.