Britain is at risk of having no government on Friday as Nick Clegg warned he may be unwilling to do a post election deal with the Conservatives. The Liberal Democrat leader told The Independent he would not do a deal at any price as this went against the will of his party, and risked splitting it.
He did, however, say he felt a “strong sense of national duty” to act in the interest of the country should there be a hung parliament. In the past he has said he would give first refusal of a coalition with whichever party won the most seats and the largest share of the vote. He described the policy as giving a heart to the Conservatives and a brain to Labour.
Mr Clegg said: “When we’re subjected to a great deal of pressure, as I’ve discovered all parties do going into a coalition – what happened then was that previous Liberal parties split and that’s when pressure turned into disaster.”
He continued: “And every single day of my leadership I have always said the one thing I will never, ever do as a leader is allow my party to split … I would never have the party go into a coalition government against its own collective will.
“I will not go against the collective will of my party. You can’t weather all the pressures, you can’t hang tough, you can’t stay the course unless you’ve taken a collective decision. At all levels of the party, including the leader, there is wariness, of course there is.”
His comments came amidst rumours that senior Liberal Democrats are against doing a deal with the Conservatives. They are said to blame the Tories for their dire poll situation, and the loss of hundreds of councillors during the term of the coalition.
After the election David Cameron will remain as Prime Minister until HM The Queen invites someone to replace him, but unless someone can command a majority in the House of Commons the government could be unstable. A British government can be no confidenced by simple majority, and if a new government cannot be formed in 14 days a general election is automatically held.
Mr Cameron does not need to call Parliament back until the matter of who will form a government is resolved. However, in the past Prime Ministers have assembled MPs in the knowledge their Queen’s Speech will fail and there will be another election after they lose a confidence motion.
Current polling for Survation in The Mail On Sunday has Labour on 34 percent, three points ahead of the Conservatives on 31 percent, UKIP on 17 percent, Lib Dems on 8 percent and the Greens 4 percent. However, neither the Tories nor Labour have ever polled far enough ahead to govern alone.