Apr 24 2010
Conservatives would demand acquiescence in their cuts programme to reduce the deficit as the price for any co-operation deal with another party in a hung Parliament, senior frontbencher Kenneth Clarke said.
And Mr Clarke made clear that he doubted whether Liberal Democrats or Labour would be ready to sign up to an agenda of swift and deep reduction to the £163 billion deficit which they have already rejected in the General Election campaign.
Meanwhile, senior Labour frontbencher David Miliband played down suggestions of a Labour/Lib Dem pact, arguing that Nick Clegg's party was running on an "anti-politics" ticket which did not provide a sufficient basis for government.
However, Children's Secretary Ed Balls acknowledged that Labour may have to form a coalition with the Lib Dems in the event of a hung Parliament.
In an interview with a newspaper, he said: "Holding a joint programme together is really, really difficult, but we'll deal with the world as we find it after the election.
"If that (a hung Parliament) is the eventuality, we'll deal with the consequences."
Mr Balls also issued a warning to Cabinet colleagues not to plot to overthrow Gordon Brown if Labour is forced to team up with the Lib Dems.
This would be "not only hugely self-indulgent but hugely counterproductive," he said.
Their comments came after a set of polls which suggested Britain is heading for a hung Parliament in the wake of a second TV debate which failed to provide a clear breakthrough for any party.
And independent economic thinktank the Centre for Business and Economic Research told the Daily Telegraph that the uncertainty of a hung Parliament could cause crisis in the financial markets, driving interest rates up to 3.5% and reducing the value of the pound, at a cost of up to £5,000 a year to British households.