The Prime Minister has launched a pre-emptive strike against the Scottish National Party as he warned that an SNP victory in next year's elections would plunge Britain into a "constitutional nightmare".
He focused his fire on the nationalists days before the SNP attempts to strike a new blow against the Government's stance on Iraq at the end of the Queen's Speech debate on Monday. More than 100 MPs have signed a joint SNP-Plaid Cymru amendment to the Queen's Speech calling on Mr Blair to come to the Commons with a new strategy for dealing with the Iraq crisis.
The nationalists, who provoked a high-profile vote on Iraq last month, hope to force a Commons vote on the issue to embarrass Mr Blair as part of their campaign to highlight the issue of Iraq ahead of Scottish Parliament elections in May.
The Prime Minister devoted his entire speech to the Scottish Labour conference in Oban yesterday to the threat from the SNP to the Labour-led coalition administration in the Holyrood Parliament.
He denounced the SNP stance over Iraq, saying it was absurd to think that voters would decide the Scottish government on a single issue and lambasted their "obsession" with breaking away from the UK.
Mr Blair said: "If it weren't Iraq, it would be something else - anything else, anything that lets them say the problem with Scotland is England, it's Westminster, it's London."
Mr Blair told the party's rank-and-file activists that the SNP was "deadly serious" about creating an independent Scotland. He said: "Imagine May 2007. The SNP plunge us into a …