LONDON (AP) — Looking ahead to Britain's national election in May, the leader of Britain's main opposition Labour Party on Monday ruled out forming a coalition government with the separatist Scottish National Party.
Labour chief Ed Miliband said such an arrangement "will not happen."
"There are big differences between us ... Labour will not go into coalition government with the SNP," he said at a town hall event in Yorkshire. He declined to say, however, whether a more loosely held arrangement might occur.
The SNP is expected to make big gains in the May 7 ballot, capitalizing on the grassroots organization put into place during last year's independence referendum. Voters electrified by possibility of upending the status quo may decide to leave Labour and gravitate to the SNP.
Polls suggest that no party has enough support to form a majority government after the vote, meaning some sort of multi-party coalition is likely. If the SNP grabs many of Labour's seats in Scotland, Labour would find it hard to form a government.
Pressure had been building for days for Miliband to declare whether a deal with the SNP was possible.
Prime Minister David Cameron, head of the Conservatives, has called Miliband "despicable" for pondering a power-sharing deal with the party that wanted "to break up our country."
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon, for her part, ruled out pre-election talks on any deal but suggested some sort of alliance might be possible.
"As long as there are more SNP and Labour MPs than there are Tory MPs, we can lock the Tories out of government, there is no question about that," she said during a speech at the London School of Economics. "So I won't rule out those other working relationships. In fact, I think they may have many things to commend them."