NICOLA Sturgeon yesterday floated the possibility of the SNP entering a DUP-style deal with a minority Labour government.

She told Sky News: “I’m not a fan of Jeremy Corbyn but if we are in a hung parliament, with Scotland potentially holding the balance of power, I will make sure Scotland’s interests are protected.”

Asked if she would do a “confidence and supply” deal similar to the DUP’s arrangement with the Tories, Sturgeon said: “Let’s see what that arithmetic is. I’m ruling out a formal coalition.

“I would favour — and I think this is more likely — a situation where we have an issue by issue arrangement, where we support them on some things and don’t support them on others.

“But we will drive a hard bargain. We will stand up for Scotland’s interests and we will stand up for the kind of progressive values that people across the UK think is important.

“We also want to see a very strong position on Brexit. This is an opportunity for Scotland, and the UK, to escape the mess of Brexit.”

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But Labour’s shadow chancellor John McDonnell insisted there would be no pact or coalition.

His comments followed reports on Monday that the SNP had held “access talks” with Westminster civil servants to help them prepare for the possibility of Sturgeon’s party forming part of a government.

A UK government source told The Times the civil service was talking “to opposition parties” and that Whitehall had to prepare “for an entire range of possibilities”.

McDonnell (below) said: “If these reports are true then Nicola Sturgeon has been wasting her time.

“There will be no pacts or coalitions with the SNP.”

He added: “We intend to win a majority but if we end up with a minority administration, we will put that policy programme to Parliament and if the SNP don’t support that then they will have to explain to the Scottish people why they rejected such a transformative agenda for Scotland.”

The National:

Kirstene Hair, Scottish Conservative MP for Angus, said: “Nicola Sturgeon has made clear again today that she is prepared to put Jeremy Corbyn into Number 10.

“When she says she would drive a hard bargain for Scotland in talks with Mr Corbyn, what she means is she’ll demand a hard deadline for another referendum on independence — as early as next year.

“What’s become clear from the first week of this campaign is that Mr Corbyn would cave in immediately.”

Richard Leonard is due to launch Scottish Labour’s election campaign in Glasgow this afternoon.

Yesterday, writing in the Scotsman, he accused the SNP of being too focused on Brexit and independence.

He said: “The election of a radical and redistributive Labour government is the most positive argument for the UK, and would eclipse the SNP’s case for the establishment of a separate Scottish state.

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“Little wonder that the SNP is more concerned with attacking Labour and talking up another independencereferendum.

“What is equally puzzling about the nationalists’ current argument is that it is predicated on Brexit, when an incoming Labour government is pledged to giving the choice back to the people.”

Meanwhile, Jo Swinson has insisted she can be the next prime minister.

Launching the LibDem General Election campaign in Westminster, the East Dunbartonshire MP accused Boris Johnson of “modelling himself” on Donald Trump, and Jeremy Corbyn couldn’t be trusted with national security.

Swinson told party supporters that the LibDems would not prop up either of the men.

She said: “I never thought I would stand here today and say I’m a candidate for prime minister but when you look at Boris Johnson and Jeremy Corbyn I’m absolutely certain I could do a better job than either of them.”

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The MP said the General Election was a campaign “about who we are as a country” and “whether we are generous or selfish”.

Asked if she could back a Labour government, she said Corbyn was “not fit for the job of Prime Minister”.

She added: “On the biggest issue of the day, he has prevaricated and will not give a straight answer. Even now if you ask him whether he is Remain or Leave he will not tell you how he would vote.

“His plans for the economy would take us back to the 1970s. I believe he would be a threat to our national security.”

Swinson also insisted there was no hypocrisy in pushing for second Brexit referendum while campaigning against indyref2.

That vote, she said, would simply “add more chaos” to Britain’s currently volatile politics.

Meanwhile, former chancellor Philip Hammond announced that he would not be standing in next month’s election.