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More coalition talks planned for today after Cameron and Clegg's first face-to-face meeting

TV Debate Clegg and Cameron More than 48 hours after the electorate gave Gordon Brown his marching orders and he remains in Downing Street as talks between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats continue.

Yesterday evening David Cameron and Nick Clegg met alone at Admiralty House for 70 minutes, for what a Tory source described as a "constructive and amicable" meeting.

At 11am this morning the teams of negotiators from the two parties will meet again, with it now confirmed that the first meeting of the new  Conservative parliamentary party will take place tomorrow evening at 6pm. It is, however,   too early to say whether there will be a deal on the table by then.

In his email to Tory members yesterday, David Cameron appeared to suggest that Conservative policy on Europe, immigration and defence is non-negotiable, while hinting that he was willing to work on implementing Lib Dem policy of taking the lowest paid out of the tax system.

The Sunday Telegraph reports a source close to the Tory leader as saying that there was also "leeway" on "schools and green issues as well as reforming Britain's political system".

But the biggest sticking point on both sides will most likely be the opposing positions on the voting system for the House of Commons.

Shadow defence secretary Liam Fox - outside the negotiating team, but the most senior Tory to have hit the airwaves yesterday - has said that the government of Britain should not be "held to ransom" by the Lib Dems and their demands for proportional representation.

I suspect that the differences between the parties on this issue are irreconcilable as far as the party memberships are concerned.

My instinct remains that the most likely outcome of these talks is that David Cameron will take his place as Prime Minister, presiding over a minority Conservative administration (without Liberal Democrats in government), but with Lib Dem agreement not to vote down a Conservative Queen's Speech.

After all, the Lib Dems are not in strong position, having lost seats at the election and aware that they could be squeezed into oblivion in the event of a second general election coming sooner rather than later. They also realise on the issue of PR, that the number of Labour MPs backing the existing electoral system means that there is in fact a Commons majority in favour of First Past The Post.

Jonathan Isaby


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