NICOLA Sturgeon has told Jeremy Corbyn she will work with him in a “progressive alliance” to keep Boris Johnson out of Number 10.

The Labour leadership has repeatedly said it will not be entering pacts or agreeing deals with the SNP, but yesterday the First Minister suggested this was more to do with sparing the blushes of the party’s Scottish chief, Richard Leonard.

Launching her party’s campaign for the General Election, Sturgeon, who has said she wants to have indyref2 next year, made clear that to win her party’s support, Labour would need to “recognise as a central principle the right of the people of Scotland to choose their own future”.

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.”

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Over the summer, both Corbyn and shadow chancellor John McDonnell said Labour would not stand in the way of granting a Section 30 order, if Holyrood demanded one.

The party has since rowed back on that. Earlier this week, McDonnell said an independence referendum would be “completely irrelevant” and that the SNP would need to win a mandate at the 2021 Holyrood elections first.

Yesterday, Sturgeon said she believed Labour’s tougher position on indyref2 was purely for show.

“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,” she said.

“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 National:

Sturgeon was also asked if it would still be possible to have an independence referendum next year if the Tories win a majority.

During a trip to Elgin on Thursday, Johnson gave a “cast-iron” vow not to devolve the powers necessary to hold a legally watertight referendum to the Scottish Parliament.

The Tory leader said: “Absolutely, there is no case whatsoever [for a second referendum] because people were promised in 2014 that it would be a once-in-a-generation event and I see no reason why we should go back on that pledge.”

At the launch, the First Minister said: “Firstly, if you listen to Boris Johnson’s comments, what he appears to be saying to Scotland, pretty much in terms, is ‘I don’t care how Scotland votes – however you vote, I’m going to ignore you’.

“I would say to the people of Scotland – this election is a great opportunity for us to show Boris Johnson exactly what we think of such a contemptuous and disrespectful attitude towards Scottish democracy.

“But secondly, the position Boris Johnson articulated yesterday is not a sensible, serious or sustainable position – that he will block Scottish democracy forever and a day.

She added: “And I will predict confidently at this podium here today, that that position that he articulated yesterday will turn out to have a shelf life only about as long as his ‘We will leave the European Union on October 31, do or die, or I’ll be dead in a ditch somewhere otherwise’.

“This is not a man whose word from day to day can be taken seriously. But more fundamentally, the power of public opinion in Scotland will see that position proven to be unsustainable.

“We already see it crumbling before our eyes in the Labour Party and I don’t think it will be long before we see it happening elsewhere.”

She added: “Nothing Boris Johnson has said in his short time as Prime Minister has turned out to be the case, so perhaps that should give us all hope for the future.”

Scottish Tory leader Jackson Carlaw disagreed, saying independence was Sturgeon’s “only priority”.