…By Henry George for TDPel Media.
Rishi Sunak, the Chancellor of the Exchequer in the UK, has not ruled out forming a coalition government with other parties, including the Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) or other small parties, despite accusing Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer of “plotting” to form coalitions.
The Prime Minister’s press secretary declined to comment on the outcome of the next general election, but stressed that Boris Johnson is focused on delivering his five priorities and securing a Conservative majority.
Labour has called on Mr Sunak to rule out forming a “grubby, desperate deal” if the Conservatives fail to win the election.
Sir Keir Starmer has ruled out forming a deal with the Scottish National Party (SNP), but has left the door open to working with the Liberal Democrats if he fails to secure a Commons majority.
During Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday, Mr Sunak attacked Sir Keir on this issue, accusing him of “plotting coalitions” while the Conservatives are in power.
However, the press secretary did not rule out forming deals with other parties, including Reform, a party founded with Nigel Farage’s backing, or Reclaim, a party led by actor Laurence Fox.
The press secretary denied that Mr Sunak is being hypocritical by attacking Labour for plotting coalitions, when the Tories have been in coalition with the Lib Dems and formed a pact with the DUP during the last 13 years.
The attacks on Labour come after the Conservative party suffered a significant defeat in the local elections, losing nearly 1,000 councillors, while Labour made large gains.
Some projections have cast doubt on whether Sir Keir is in a position to secure a majority in the next general election, expected next year.
Shadow Scotland secretary Ian Murray accused Mr Sunak of being desperate to cling to power, while urging the Conservatives to follow Labour’s example and rule out forming a deal with the SNP.
On Tuesday, Sir Keir repeatedly declined to rule out forming a deal with the Lib Dems in the future, but insisted that he is “going for an outright majority”.
He also confirmed that there are no terms in which Labour will form a deal with the SNP.
Former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable suggested that secret discussions will take place between Labour and his party, but a Lib Dem source denied this, saying that “Vince doesn’t speak for the party”.