Conservative Diary

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Team Cameron wanted a coalition but a minority government remains most likely

There is a lot of speculation in the media at present. Earlier today, for example, The Telegraph reported that Mr Cameron was ready "to trade reform of the voting system for a two-year deal with Nick Clegg that would deliver economic and social change". A very senior member of Team Cameron told me that that was "without foundation".

Having worked the phones today my inclination is the same as last Friday. David Cameron will be Prime Minister of a minority government but with the Liberal Democrats agreeing a ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement that will ensure the Conservatives will get core business passed. This was the wish of the vast majority of Tory members.

Some members of Team Cameron wanted a formal coalition - 'the change coalition' as it has been described by Guido Fawkes and Iain Dale. That is unlikely.  Too many Liberal Democrats regard a formal coalition as electoral suicide. It would see them lose all prospect of victory in Lib/Lab marginal seats.  The only way they could be persuaded into a coalition was a very strong commitment on proportional representation. Team Cameron has toyed with the idea of offering a PR referendum for the Commons and PR for the Lords but they are aware that the party in the Commons, Lords and in the country would be very unhappy with any such concessions.

Aides to David Cameron are nonetheless pleased with the negotiations. The conversations between Cameron and Clegg have been "warm". Britain is likely to have a second election within a year but the good personal relations between senior Conservatives and Liberal Democrats and a range of concessions (including some cross-party working groups) should be enough to give Britain a stable government in the forthcoming months.

Tim Montgomerie


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