Nicola Sturgeon has cast doubt on Jeremy Corbyn’s stance of no independence referendum in the early years of a Labour government, suggesting he would not compromise SNP support for his anti-austerity policies.
The SNP leader was asked about a potential agreement with Labour in the event of a hung parliament when she appeared before an audience during a special edition of BBC One’s Question Time on Friday.
Appearing directly before Ms Sturgeon on the programme, Mr Corbyn reiterated that, if elected, his party would not support another vote on Scottish independence in the first two years of government.
The First Minister said: “Do you think he’s going to walk away from the chance to end austerity, to protect the NHS, stop Universal Credit, simply because he wants for a couple of years to prevent Scotland having the right to self-determination?
“I’m not sure he’s going to compromise the chance to have a Labour government for that issue.”
She added: “If he’s in the position of needing the support of the SNP, then I think he’ll choose to do some of the things in his manifesto and I don’t think he’ll turn his back on that in order to block the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.”
Ms Sturgeon said she did not envisage forming a coalition with Labour, but a “less formal arrangement”.
Following a question from the audience on the SNP Government in Scotland, she said the party was not prioritising independence over other issues.
She said: “If you look at some of the policies in Labour’s manifesto, if you take things like free prescriptions, free university education, restoring the nursing bursary, opposition to fracking, these are all things that my government in Scotland has already done.
“We are getting on with delivering those progressive policies but we want to be in charge of our own future, not to turn our backs on the rest of the UK, but so that we don’t get dragged down paths by Tory governments that we don’t want to go down.”
Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said after the broadcast: “Tonight, Jeremy Corbyn set out the huge difference that a UK Labour government could make to Scotland’s economy, communities and people.
“In contrast, Nicola Sturgeon spoke nothing of the challenges facing Scotland, and it’s little wonder given her record of failure.
“But it is her record of failure – on the scores of missed NHS waiting targets, on our failing public transport system, and on education, where there are 3,000 fewer teachers than when the SNP took office – on which she will be judged.”
Paul Masterton, Conservative candidate for East Renfrewshire, said: “Nicola Sturgeon’s claim to a UK audience that she puts other issues before independence will be treated with derision in Scotland.
“As Scots have learnt all too well, independence transcends everything for the SNP.”