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SNP hits out at ‘unthinkable’ Labour agreement with Tories in Edinburgh

Angus Robertson has led calls to Labour’s Edinburgh leader to cancel a plan for a ‘deal’ with the Tories (PA)
Angus Robertson has led calls to Labour’s Edinburgh leader to cancel a plan for a ‘deal’ with the Tories (PA)

A Labour deal with the Conservatives to take control of Edinburgh is “unthinkable”, SNP politicians have said.

Angus Robertson and his SNP Edinburgh colleagues have written to Cammy Day, Labour’s city group leader, to demand an explanation about a potential minority Labour council administration, topped up by Tory councillors.

Prior to the council elections earlier this month, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar ruled out formal coalitions with opposition parties.

Labour-run minority councils have been set up in East Lothian, East Renfrewshire, Fife, Inverclyde, South Lanarkshire and West Lothian.

That is despite Labour having fewer seats than the SNP in West Lothian and Fife.

Labour secured a majority administration in West Dunbartonshire following the May 5 elections.

Last week, Mr Sarwar denied misleading the public by entering into partnerships with other parties, insisting his approach of maximising Labour administrations is “consistent” with his pre-election promises.

The letter, signed by Mr Robertson and fellow SNP MSPs Ash Regan, Ben Macpherson and Gordon MacDonald, plus party MPs Tommy Sheppard, Deidre Brock and Joanna Cherry, said the public rejected Conservative administrations on May 5.

It reads: “It is only possible for Labour to form an administration, as outlined in the press, if it were supported by the Conservative councillors.

“Put plainly, this is unthinkable. The city of Edinburgh resoundingly rejected the Conservatives in May’s elections.”

The group of city SNP politicians has demanded Mr Day clarifies his intentions ahead of votes on Thursday to form the new council.

The letter continues: “Labour promised its voters that its councillors would work to tackle the serious cost-of-living crisis and that it would oppose the harmful policies of the UK Government.

“Very simply, the Labour Party cannot do so while it shares any common cause with the Conservative Party.”

The letter warns Mr Day that any deal with the Conservatives will give “credence and justification” to the Tories’ actions, following the partygate scandal at Downing Street.

General Election 2019
SNP MP Joanna Cherry is among the signatories of the letter (Lesley Martin/PA)

The SNP group in Edinburgh has agreed a draft deal with the Scottish Greens and hopes to beat Labour to form a partnership.

However the two parties together do not have enough seats for a majority and will rely on other parties to support them or abstain in order to secure control.

Councillors will meet on Thursday to appoint a lord provost and form the new administration.

The SNP in Edinburgh is the largest party with 19 seats, while Labour has 13, the Liberal Democrats 12, Greens 10 and the Tories have nine.

The Scottish Liberal Democrats have agreed to vote Labour because of their commitment to “do things differently”.

Speaking ahead of the vote, Lib Dem group chair Louise Young said: “There are so many serious issues needing attention; a cost-of-living crisis, the climate emergency, a lack of affordable housing, crumbling roads and pavements, a need for major investment in our schools.

“With savage SNP and Green cuts on the horizon, we need the strongest possible voices standing up for Edinburgh and making the case for proper funding. Otherwise, the problems we see in our city today risk getting even worse.”

Scottish Greens co-leader Lorna Slater has urged Labour to work with progressive parties instead of the Tories.

She said: “This month’s election saw the Conservatives losing half of their councillors and thousands of votes in Edinburgh. Many people in our city would be shocked to see Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors lining up with the Tories to form an administration.

“It is time for progressive parties to come together and build on the achievements that were made over the last term. That is why, even at this late stage, I am urging Edinburgh’s Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors to work with us, rather than the Tories.”

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