John McDonnell: SNP want confidence motion because they are scared of general election
John McDonnell has accused the SNP of demanding Labour table a motion of no confidence in the Government because they know it would fail and the chance of a general election would be gone.
In comments likely to infuriate Nicola Sturgeon, the Shadow Chancellor said the Nationalists "know we're breathing down their necks in Scotland and will take seats off them" whenever the next election takes place.
Ms Sturgeon has called on Jeremy Corbyn to table a confidence motion in Theresa May's administration in the wake of the Prime Minister's decision to delay the vote on her Brexit deal.
Speaking on the Today programme, the SNP leader said: "If the time is not right now, when will the time be right?"
Former Labour general secretaries Iain McNicol and David Triesman are also among 73 Labour MPs, peers, MEPs and MSPs who have put their names to a letter demanding Mr Corbyn table a confidence motion.
But Mr McDonnell insisted Labour would not do so unless there was a realistic chance of it being passed, which is highly unlikely at the moment because the DUP have said they would support the Government in any such vote unless Mrs May's deal has been passed by the Commons.
The Shadow Chancellor said: "We'll put one down when we can win it. The Prime Minister's going off to see what she can get in terms of renegotiations or whatever and we'll see what she brings back.
"The SNP have got their own motivation, which is to try and avoid a general election, I think. Who can delve into the mind of Nicola Sturgeon, but my view is that they want to lose a vote of no confidence and then avoid a general election because they know we're breathing down their necks in Scotland, we'll take seats off them in so many marginals."
He added: "They're terrified of a general election. They're sitting on a large number of marginal seats at the moment and we'll take them."
Leading figures in the People's Vote campaign for another EU referendum also made a direct appeal to Jeremy Corbyn to urge him to table a confidence motion.
Labour grandee Margaret Beckett said: "To Jeremy, we are asking that in the days ahead you think very hard about adding your signature to those of the other leaders here today, table a motion of no confidence so that, if you cannot get the general election we want, you can campaign for the people’s vote that Labour’s members and voters so desperately desire."