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William Hague says that the talks with the Lib Dems will reconvene in the next 24 hours as David Cameron makes himself available to Tory MPs this evening

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William Hague and the Conservative negotiating team have just emerged from the Cabinet Office after talks with their Lib Dem counterparts which began at 11am today.

Mr Hague said that there had been "positive and productive discussions" on a whole range of issues, including political reform, the economy, reduction of the deficit, banking reform, civil liberties and the environment.

He said that the teams would be meeting again in the next 24 hours, but that they had already agreed that economic stability and reduction of the deficit would be central to any agreement that might be made (Danny Alexander on behalf of the Lib Dems echoed this statement virtually word for word ten minutes later on leaving the building with his colleagues).

Mr Hague, George Osborne, Oliver Letwin and Ed Llewellyn then headed to the Commons to report back to David Cameron who is in his office there, where he has separately made himself available to Conservative MPs wanting to discuss the matters in hand. It seems that any Tory MP is welcome to attend.

It isn't clear whether there'll be a series of small meetings, or a single larger one.  It may be that Team Cameron is assuming that not many of the newly-elected MPs will yet be in London.

This arrangement is very much ad hoc.  The Whips have certainly been ringing round MPs today asking them for their views on the Conservative-Liberal talks. We gather that reports that the Whips are canvassing a free Commons vote on proportional representation are a bit wide of the mark. This has certainly been raised as an option by both Whips and other MPs variously, but there's been no concerted attempt by the Party leadership to push it.

The nature of both this evening's invitations and the Whips' ring-round suggests that Team Cameron is in listening mode, at least for the moment.

It is unclear when precisely the talks teams will reconvene, but the next fixed date in the diary is 6pm tomorrow night for that meeting of the full Conservative Parliamentary Party.

> WATCH: William Hague's full statement at the end of today's negotiations

6pm update:

It has just emerged that Nick Clegg met Gordon Brown at the Foreign Office this afternoon. According to the BBC's Nick Robinson, this was done with David Cameron's knowledge, and enabled Clegg to update Brown on progress with the Tory/Lib Dem talks. Clegg and Cameron spoke on the phone earlier this afternoon.

8.45pm update:

The BBC is reporting that David Cameron and Nick Clegg have had a face to face meeting in Parliament this evening which lasted 45 minutes, further to their phone conversation at 2.30pm this afternoon..

Jonathan Isaby and Paul Goodman


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