Two-way support

Cole-Hamilton ‘may work with Tories’ despite Labour pledge

Alex Cole-Hamilton: union support

Alex Cole-Hamilton, the next leader of the Scottish Liberal Democrats, has said he could work with the Conservatives just days after suggesting he would support a new coalition with Labour.

In an interview this weekend, Mr Cole-Hamilton said he is prepared to join forces with the Scottish Conservatives to safeguard the Union, and distanced himself from Labour.

At the end of last month he said that he is “good friends” with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and that he is looking forward to working with him.

“If we are to see a change in Government from the SNP, who have stagnated for 14 years in power, then we need to seek out a progressive alternative. And that might be a coalition with Labour,” he told the Daily Record on 28 July.

He contrasted Mr Sarwar with Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross, who he said was “part of the problem” due to his party’s embrace of “toxic British nationalism”.

In today’s interview in The Times he offers to work with the Tories, saying: “I’m not interested in coalitions or pacts with the Conservative party, but I will work with them in articulating a positive case for our continued membership of the UK.”

The Liberal Democrats and Labour worked in coalition in the Scottish parliament between 1999 and 2007, but Mr Cole-Hamilton’s party now has just four MSPs

Mr Cole-Hamilton conceded the Westminster coalition with the Tories had harmed his party at the ballot box, but said he had “no involvement” in the decision to join forces with the Tories.

The 44-year-old is expected to be elected as leader unopposed next Friday, succeeding Willie Rennie who argued for a close working relationship with Labour to win back the centre ground of Scottish politics.

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