NICOLA Sturgeon has left the door open to a DUP-style deal with Labour after the General Election.

The First Minister has repeatedly rejected the idea of entering into any formal coalition with Jeremy Corbyn if he fails to secure a majority on December 12.

However, yesterday she did not rule out a looser, "confidence and supply” arrangement in exchange for a second independence referendum.

Following the 2017 election, the DUP agreed to prop up Theresa May’s Government under such a deal, with the Northern Irish party supporting the Conservative administration on key issues.

Asked on Sky News whether she would “do a deal like the DUP” on a confidence and supply basis, Ms Sturgeon said: “Well, let’s see what the arithmetic is – there will be no formal coalition.”

She added: “We will see what the circumstances are. What I was about to go on to say is that I would favour more, and I think be more likely to end up in, a situation where we have an issue by issue arrangement where we support on some things and don’t support on others.

“But we’ll drive a hard bargain and we’ll stand up for Scotland’s interests, and we’ll stand up for the kind of progressive values that people across the UK think are important and we’ll want to see a very strong position on Brexit.”

It emerged earlier this week that Ms Sturgeon is set to enter into discussions with the UK civil service about her priorities in the event of any deal with Labour.

These include a second independence referendum and the devolution of drug powers to Scotland.

Whitehall officials can speak to opposition parties as part of a long-standing convention allowing them to prepare for a potential change in government.

But last night, Labour shadow chancellor John McDonnell said: “If these reports are true then Nicola Sturgeon has been wasting her time. There will be no pacts or coalitions with the SNP.

“Labour’s plan for real change will give 700,000 Scots a pay rise and deliver around £70bn worth of investment that will transform Scotland’s communities and public services.

“We intend to win a majority but if we end up with a minority administration, we will put that policy programme to Parliament and if the SNP don’t support that then they will have to explain to the Scottish people why they rejected such a transformative agenda for Scotland.”

There has been widespread speculation that the SNP would agree to prop up a minority Labour Government in exchange for the power to hold a second independence referendum.

Speaking to journalists while campaigning in Dalkeith, the First Minister also hit out at the SNP’s exclusion from General Election TV debates.

Her party has complained to Sky News and Ofcom about the “deeply undemocratic” decision not to include it.

Sky News proposed a live debate between Boris Johnson, Jeremy Corbyn and Jo Swinson, shortly after Ms Swinson said the Liberal Democrats would launch legal action against ITV if it did not include her in its proposed head-to-head debate between the Tory and Labour leaders.

The SNP said it has written to the head of Sky News calling for the party to be fully included in any debate, and making clear it could test the matter in the courts if it is not swiftly resolved.

Ms Sturgeon said: “I think these are big issues.

“We will continue to have fairly rigorous discussions with the broadcasters – both about the leaders’ debates, but also generally just about how the SNP is reflected in the overall coverage.

“We could hold the balance of power after this election.”

Elsewhere, the First Minister insisted she is not concerned about alienating Brexit-supporting SNP voters by adopting a firmly pro-EU stance.

Asked whether she feared the party would face a backlash, after earlier comments that 10% to 12% of SNP supporters also backed Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said: “No I don’t - I don’t worry. In politics, you have to decide what side of issues you’re on - big defining issues.

“You only have to look at Labour to see what happens to parties who try to straddle the fence and aren’t frank with people.

“But however people voted on Brexit, I think people believe that it’s a mess and chaotic.

“Most people I speak to - including the minority in Scotland that voted to leave - actually just want to escape the whole sorry saga.”

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard will announce that a UK Labour government would fund the building of 120,000 homes at council and social rents as he launches his General Election campaign in Glasgow today.