A HUNG parliament could be the best outcome for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon claimed as she launched her party’s campaign for next month’s General Election.

The First Minister said neither Labour or the Tories winning an overall majority and SNP MPs being returned in great numbers would give voters in Scotland "significant influence and significant power".

Sturgeon ruled out forming a formal coalition with Jeremy Corbyn but said she would seek to form a progressive alliance to lock the Tories out of government.

She also expressed confidence that Labour would not stand in the way of an independence referendum.

Labour have repeatedly said there will no be pacts or coalitions or deals with the SNP and that Sturgeon and her MPs can either back Corbyn's legislative agenda or put Boris Johnson into government.

On Wednesday, speaking at his party's campaign launch, Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard said: "We’ve said that we are standing in this election to form a majority Labour government. If we were a minority Labour government we would draft a Queen’s Speech and it would then be up to the SNP whether they voted for that progressive, transformative Queen’s Speech or not. And if they did not vote for it, they would have to answer to the people of Scotland.”

At her campaign launch Sturgeon claimed the UK Labour leadership's refusal to admit they were interested in working with the SNP was their way of sparing the blushes of their Scottish chief.

Sturgeon said: “The reality is any minority Labour government that wanted to deliver any of its policies and sustain itself in government would need the support of the SNP, if the SNP is in the House of Commons, as I hope it will be, in numbers.

“That’s the reality of the situation and it gives the SNP - and by extension given that we’re there to represent Scotland - Scotland significant influence and significant power which is why the more SNP MPs there are after this election, the more influence we will have.”

Sturgeon also said her party would not “give its support to parties that do not recognise as a central principle the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future.”

She added: “Whatever he might say to spare Richard Leonard’s blushes in the course of this election campaign, I’m not sure that’s a position that Jeremy Corbyn will find himself in.

“Jeremy Corbyn is somebody who supports self-determination for literally every other country in the world, it would be quite strange if he didn’t support it for Scotland. “

Asked if she would compromise on the timing of a second referendum, given that Labour have suggested they could allow one in the later years of a Corbyn administration, the First Minister said it was “not for Westminster politicians to determine” the timescale.

The First Minister said she was confident that she could still have a referendum before the end of next year, even if the Tories win a majority. 

She said: "We already see the opposition of Westminster parties coming under pressure and starting to crumble.

"There is an opportunity in this election for the people of Scotland to really blow it away in numbers, making clear that whatever the view of the best future for Scotland, we are absolutely united in Scotland in believing it's for the people of Scotland to determine it."