Tories, Lib Dems bargain over govt formation

Clear picture is expected to emerge today

Tories, Lib Dems bargain over govt formation

Negotiators for the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats will meet again later on Sunday for a crunch meeting to spell out their demands and a clearer picture is expected to emerge only by Monday. Conservative emerged as the single largest party with 306 seats in the 650-member House of Commons in the General Election which has thrown up a hung parliament. Labour got 258 seats, while Liberal Democrats won 57 seats.

Tory and Lib Dem leaders David Cameron and Nick Clegg spent 70 minutes last night in face-to-face talks on the neutral ground of Admiralty House in Whitehall, the seat of the Government here, with both sides describing the encounter as “constructive and amicable”.

Clegg also spoke to Prime Minister Gordon Brown on phone at the request of the Prime Minister in a conversation which the Lib Dems again described as “amicable”.
Brown has offered to talk to the Lib Dems talks if no deal is reached with the Conservatives.

A spokesman for the Lib Dem leader indicated that Brown’s overture would not deflect Clegg from pursuing his strategy of talking to the Tories first on a possible solution to the impasse caused by Thursday’s general election.

“The Liberal Democrats will continue with the approach which Nick Clegg has set out and which was endorsed today by the parliamentary party and the party’s federal executive,” said the spokesman.

Tory sources said no conclusion to talks is expected until Monday at the earliest, but Sunday’s meeting at the Cabinet Office will bring a sharper focus on the issues that may make or break a Tory/Lib Dem deal.

Cameron made clear he is willing to seek consensus with Lib Dems over issues like education, the green economy and taxation. But doubts remain over whether any agreement can be found on the thorny questions of Europe and electoral reform.

Polls suggest widespread public support for a fairer voting system following an election in which Lib Dems won fewer than one-tenth of seats after securing almost a quarter of votes and Conservatives were denied a majority despite taking a greater proportion of votes than Labour in 2005.

Some 62 per cent of people questioned for the Sunday Times, 60 per cent in the Mail on Sunday, 59 per cent for The People and 48 per cent in the Sunday Telegraph backed proportional representation for Westminster elections.


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