Former UK PM Says Scottish Nationalists Risk Destabilizing Britain

John Major
Britain's former Conservative Prime Minister John Major makes a campaign speech at a sports club in Solihull, central England, April 21, 2015. Darren Staples/Reuters

Britain's stability would be threatened if a future Labour government cut a deal with Scottish nationalists, John Major, the country's former Conservative prime minister, will warn on Tuesday, saying "mayhem" and political blackmail would ensue.

Major's intervention comes ahead of a knife-edge May 7 election in which neither the Conservatives nor Labour are expected to win an outright majority, teeing up a possible deal between Labour and a resurgent Scottish National Party (SNP), which wants Scotland to break away from the United Kingdom.

"This is a recipe for mayhem," Major will say, in his first significant intervention in the election campaign, according to advance extracts of his speech.

"At the very moment our country needs a strong and stable government, we risk a weak and unstable one – pushed to the left by its allies, and open to a daily dose of political blackmail."

The SNP has rebounded after leading a failed bid for independence last year and is on track to virtually wipe out Labour in Scotland. Predicted to emerge as the third largest party by seats, it hopes to parlay success at the ballot box into holding the balance of power after the election.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said she could work with Labour on an informal basis, but has ruled out a deal with Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron.

Cameron said on Sunday he was taking advice from Major, the last Conservative leader to win an outright majority when in 1992 he secured a shock win against a confident Labour.

"Labour would be in hock to a Party that – slowly but surely – will push them ever further to the Left," Major will say, warning that Labour leader Ed Miliband would have to sacrifice the interests of the rest of the United Kingdom to keep Sturgeon's support.

Some senior Conservatives are uneasy about their party's tactic of talking up the SNP threat to court voters, fearing it risks stoking English nationalism and breaking a broader cross-party coalition against the SNP.