Lib Dems Head For Tories

Lecturers fighting Labour cuts – will do the same or more under a coalition government
Lecturers fighting Labour cuts – will do the same or more under a coalition government

BRITAIN remained without a government yesterday, as the Liberal Democrats prepared to dump their proportional representation policy in order to strike a dirty coalition deal with the Tories.

Negotiating teams, including William Hague, George Osborne, Oliver Letwin for the Tories and Vince Cable, Chris Huhne and David Laws for the Lib Dems, arrived for talks at the Cabinet Office at 11am yesterday, following the private talks between party leaders Cameron and Clegg on Saturday evening.

Mike German, who is a veteran of the Welsh Assembly coalition talks, warned that each side must compromise, adding that solutions can be found.

German said ‘anything is possible’ during the negotiations.

He added: ‘It all depends on the programme for government which is being hammered out between the various negotiating teams.’

He concluded that he thought that a deal would be made.

Lady Shirley Williams, one of the original ‘Gang of Four’ who broke with Labour in the 1980s was the only Lib Dem leader to openly warn Clegg against the idea of the party striking a formal coalition deal with David Cameron, warning that it is not in the ‘Conservatives’ DNA’ to move properly in key areas.

But Welsh Labour MP Paul Flynn forecast that the Lib Dems would not be able to do a deal with either the Tories or his party, saying ‘It collapsed in Wales in 2007.’

Tory education spokesman Michael Gove warned: ‘We all know with what is happening in the eurozone and Greece, and that we cannot afford to have a situation where we don’t have as quickly as possible a new government formed, taking the steps we all know are necessary in order to put our economy back on track.’

Gordon Brown remains prime minister, and government business was continuing, with Chancellor Alistair Darling attending a meeting of finance ministers in Brussels.

Brown emailed to Labour Party members: ‘The past few days have seen us enter a political landscape not considered possible a few short weeks ago – with the outcome of the election leading to no single party able to form a majority government.

‘My duty as prime minister has been to seek to resolve this situation. . .

‘My resolve has not, and will not, change. I pledged to do everything in my power to fight for the people of this country – to secure the recovery, to protect their livelihoods and to continue to fight for a future fair for all.’

Former Labour minister Malcolm Wicks warned that ‘Labour clinging onto power at all costs in coalition with the Liberals and nationalists would be stretching reality to breaking point.’

He said Labour should ‘prepare to be a dignified opposition’.

Labour MP Jim Sheridan disagreed, saying that in Scotland ‘we don’t want the Tories back’.

He added: ‘We are determined that Gordon will not be driven out either by the media or Nick Clegg.’

He said: ‘If Cameron and Clegg decide to form a coalition, Gordon Brown will make a decision then. He is not squatting in Downing Street but carrying out his constitutional duty.’

After spending the night at his election home, incumbent prime minister Brown returned to Downing Street at midday yesterday, where he had a meeting with members of his current cabinet.

First seen to arrive via the back door was Environment Secretary Ed Miliband, followed by Business Secretary Peter Mandelson, Deputy Leader Harriet Harman and former spin doctor Alastair Campbell.

Several Labour MPs, including Kate Hoey and John Mann have called for Brown to step down.