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William Hague "optimistic" about making progress in today's talks with the Lib Dems

Picture 25 The Conservative-Lib Dem talks have just begun for the day and as the Tory quartet enetered the Cabinet Office, William Hague said that the talks were "going well" and that today's meetings would be discussing "specific ideas and proposals".

He added that he was "optimistic about making further progress very soon".

Further updates on the talks will be added during the course of the day.

10.30am update:

Sky News reports that David Cameron and Nick Clegg had a 30-minute phone conversation this morning.

10.45am update:

Shadow Cabinet will meet at 4pm for an update on talks in advance of the parliamentary party meeting at 6pm.

12.30pm update:

At about 11.40am the talks teams emerged from the Cabinet Office, with William Hague saying that the teams were working well together and that each team was now off to brief their respective party leader. Danny Alexander made a similar statement for the Lib Dems. Around the same time it emerged that Clegg and Brown had had another face-to-face meeting this morning.

Meanwhile, the BBC is reporting that Ed Balls, Lord Mandelson, Ed Miliband, and Lord Adonis secretly met the Lib Dem negotiators over the weekend.

1pm update:

The Shadow Cabinet meeting has been brought forward to 2pm.

1.30pm update:

The BBC are reporting that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have had another face-to-face meeting, as the Lib Dem parliamentary party meeting in Westminster.

3pm update:

The Shadow Cabinet meeting has finished; one source has suggested to me that the meeting was updated on the talks, but that no finalised deal is yet on the table.

3.45pm update:

As Tim has tweeted: "The Party Board will meet at 7pm to discuss the LibCon talks but (ridiculously) we aren't meant to know. What happened to transparency?"

4pm update:

Lib Dem negotiator David Laws has made a statement on TV via mobile phone after the Lib Dem parliamentary party meeting. He said that stable and strong government was vital for tackling the country's economic problems and that bringing down the deficit  would be central to any agreement that is made. He said that they had so far had "very good discussions" with the Tories, but there is no deal yet and that they are still seeking clarification on big issues including educaiton, fair taxes and voting reform.

7.15pm update:

After the news that Gordon Brown will resign and that the Lib Dems are opening up negotiations with Labour, comes news regarding the Conservative offer to the Lib Dems: the party is offering a referendum on the Alternative Vote (AV) electoral system as part of a final offer on a power-sharing deal.

7.30pm update:

William Hague spoke to reporters outside the Commons to explain the offer of a referendum on Alternative Vote being made to the Lib Dems. He said that in trying to create a stable and secure government the Tories would "go the extra mile" and to offer this referendum on AV so the people of this country can decide.

He said it was urgent that country has a new and stable government and that the Lib Dems now had a choice:

  1. To go in with the Lab Party in a governemnt that would not be stable or secure (relying on minor parties for a majority), that would be headed by a second unelected PM in a row (which would be unaccepatable to the maj of people) and whcih would impose voting reform without a consutlation; or
  2. To continue talks with the Conservatives and make a coalition in a government that would have a stable and secure majority (of 76), an elected PM in David Cameron who obtained most votes and seats at the election, and which would say the voting system should be subject to a referendum.

He said that everybody would be at liberty to campaign as they wished in a referendum on AV.

Jonathan Isaby


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