Gordon Brown in Newcastle: Labour will make 'no deals, no coalitions'

Former PM warned Labour to move away from a regional benefits cap and critised Tories for attacking Ed Miliband during a visit to Walker

Andy Commins Former Prime minister Gordon Brown pays a visit to Walker Technology College in Newcastle
Former Prime minister Gordon Brown pays a visit to Walker Technology College in Newcastle

Labour will make “no deals, no coalitions” and “no compromises” when it comes to the Scottish National Party, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown told supporters in Tyneside.

The one-time party leader also laid into the Tories for “setting English people against Scottish people” as he drummed up support for Newcastle East candidate Nick Brown on the campaign trail.

Mr Brown said: “Every day [the SNP] say something more outrageous; that they’re going to run Britain and not just run Scotland; that they’ve got plans to hold this party or that party to book.

“Their suggestion that they would somehow support a Labour Government is something that we just do not accept. There will be no deals, no coalitions, no compromises, no tie-ins.”

He added: “The SNP has never supported the Labour Party and we will never support them.”

But the former Chancellor also warned Ed Miliband that his party “shouldn’t move away” from a country-wide benefit cap by introducing a regional threshold that could see people in the North East offered less than those in London.

Also read: The North East Manifesto - we reveal what the people of the region REALLY want

The Labour Manifesto says an independent committee will investigate whether the cap should be lower in different parts of the UK.

A document leaked to the BBC earlier this year suggested the Conservatives are looking at making saving with a regional cap on benefits, too.

Mr Brown was at Walker Technology College where he met members of the school’s Combined Cadet Force before giving a speech.

In his speech, he said: “The whole principle of the welfare state is that we share amongst each other and we act to meet people’s needs, irrespective of where they live and irrespective of their background.

“We have got to remind people that there is a problem with a Conservative Government getting elected.

“They leaked documents that a cap on benefits would be applied in London but it would be a lower in the North East. This would mean probably £50-a-week less for the neediest families in this region compared with the rest of the country.”

Speaking after the event, he said Labour should not go down the path of changing benefits according to regions, either.

Andy Commins Former Prime minister Gordon Brown pays a visit to Walker Technology College in Newcastle
Former Prime minister Gordon Brown pays a visit to Walker Technology College in Newcastle

He said: “We have always held to the principle that irrespective of where you live in the UK it is your needs that determine what your rights are and what your benefits are.

“We shouldn’t move away from that principle. The general principle is the right one. If people are getting benefits that they don’t deserve then we have got to look at that but the principle is that everyone has a right to benefits no matter where you live.”

During the speech, Mr Brown accused the Tories of running a “negative campaign” and took the wrong tack targeting Ed Miliband.

“The Conservative Party started this campaign and they tried to make it a referendum on Ed Miliband,” he said.

“That was the plan. They didn’t want it to be a referendum on living standards. They didn’t want it to be a referendum on what is happening to the NHS and they didn’t want it to be a referendum on the future, because they don’t have any plans.

“They wanted it to be a negative campaign and they wanted to attack Ed Miliband.

“But then when people saw him on TV, they saw that this is a man of principle, a man of courage, a man of integrity, a man of compassion.”

Mr Brown, who campaigned for a No vote in the Scottish Independence Referendum, said the Conservatives are spreading “fear of Scotland”.

He said: “They are trying with all these adverts across England to make the fear of Scotland an issue for this election and it is the most insidious tactic, because it is the Conservative Party setting English people against Scottish people when we, as the Labour Party, have always stood up for the unity of the whole of Britain. “We know that we advance together or we don’t advance at all. We know that it is not one region or nation making progress at the expense of another, it is all of us moving forward together.”

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