Nicola Sturgeon has ruled out working with Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party after May’s Holyrood election – but has left open the prospect of a future deal with the Scottish Greens.
While she insisted she is fighting the upcoming election in a bid to win an outright majority for the SNP after the May 6 ballot, Sturgeon did not rule out the prospect of working with the Greens – who also favour Scottish independence – if her party falls short of that.
Scottish Green Party co-leader Lorna Slater spoke out about the prospect of a coalition between the two parties, saying the Greens “want to be in government in this country”.
Sturgeon, speaking to the Scottish Parliamentary Journalists’ Association, refused to rule out a future coalition.
She said: “I am concentrating on fighting this election and winning as many seats as possible for the SNP. These are hypothetical questions until after the elections are over.”
But she added: “We have worked with the greens in Budget negotiations for the duration of the Parliament that has just passed, so I know we can work with the Greens on that kind of basis.”
The SNP leader was clear: “There have been no discussions between the SNP and the Greens about anything more formal than that, and until the election is over that would remain a hypothetical issue.”
But when asked if she would work with the Alba Party, which is led by her predecessor, former first minister Alex Salmond, Sturgeon’s answer was a straight “No”.
She was clear: “I am ruling out having any kind of arrangement with Alex Salmond or with Alba.”
With some opinion polls suggesting Salmond’s new party may not win any seats on May 6, Sturgeon added this may not be “something I am going to have to contend with”, though she stressed that “these polls might change, and the margins are all very fine”.
Her comments came as she insisted the forthcoming Scottish Parliament elections were the most important Scotland has faced since Holyrood was established back in 1999.
She stated: “Given the times we are living through, given the seriousness of the challenges we face and given the choice for Scotland about our future, it is probably not an exaggeration to say this is the most important election certainly since devolution, and perhaps even longer than that.”
Sturgeon insisted: “In the short term it really matters that we have strong, steady and experienced leadership as a country over the next few months.
“We are still in a pandemic and the threat of Covid has abated… but the threat has not gone ahead and the decisions that are taken over the next weeks and months, certainly into the summer, will be really important in determining how safely and quickly we get through the remaining phase of the pandemic.”
She also said that the policy programme brought in by the next Scottish government would be key in the country’s recovery from Covid-19.
Sturgeon said: “The dividing line (in this election) is between those like the SNP who want to give the people a choice when the time is right and the unionist parties who never want Scotland to have that choice, who want Boris Johnson to hold the whip hand and for big decisions about our future to continue to lie in Westminster.”
The SNP leader continued: “Recovery is rightly the focus of much of this election but what we recover to, and the kind of country we become out of that recovery depends to a large extent on who is taking those decisions and fundamentally where power lies.
“That is why after the crisis, offering that choice to the people of Scotland is a key part of what we are putting forward in this election.”