Sturgeon calls for SNP inclusion in Whitehall talks

First minister of Scotland Nicola Sturgeon says Scottish National party should be included in Whitehall pre-election talks


By Matt Foster

23 Feb 2015

Nicola Sturgeon has urged the cabinet secretary to include the Scottish National party (SNP) in pre-election talks with the civil service.

In a letter to Sir Jeremy Heywood, the Scottish First Minister calls for policy briefing contact to extend beyond Labour, citing polls which indicate a hung parliament as the most likely outcome of May’s vote.

"Given the likely continuance of a hung parliament situation in the House of Commons, I believe that in advance of this general election it is time for Westminster to move towards the higher, more inclusive standards which prevail in the Scottish Parliament,” Sturgeon said.

A Cabinet Office spokesperson said the SNP leader could expect a response “in due course”.

Commons leader William Hague meanwhile refused to give his own opinion on whether the SNP should be included in the talks, but praised the "thoroughness" of the civil service in planning for various post-election deals.

“I’m not going to get drawn into that," he told Radio 5 Live.

"I think that is a judgement that [the civil servants] have to make. 

"The civil service, by the way, has always had to plan for every possible election outcome. When I was Secretary of State for Wales, the civil servants in the Welsh office planned for what would happen if Plaid Cymru had a decisive voice in government in 1997.

"That was very unlikely that that was going to happen, but that is the thoroughness of the British civil service, so they will have a plan for what happens if the SNP has the crucial balance of power, the scenario you’re talking about. 

"The degree of contact that involves between the civil service and the SNP has to be heavily up to them, so I’m going to dodge that one.”


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