Keir Starmer is accused of ‘plotting coalitions’ after refusing to rule out electoral pact with Lib Dems as Vince Cable says there WILL be talks with Labour
- Sir Keir’s official spokesman did not rule out a coalition with Lib Dems last night
- Sir Vince suggested they will discuss matter well ahead of next year’s polling day
Keir Starmer was yesterday accused of ‘plotting coalitions’ after he once again refused to rule out an electoral pact with the Liberal Democrats.
Rishi Sunak said Labour were too busy planning pacts while the Tories were ‘getting on and delivering for the British people.’
Both Sir Keir and his Liberal Democrat counterpart Sir Ed Davey have evaded questions over a possible deal if Labour – as projected – fall short of a majority at next year’s general election.
But last night former Lib Dem leader Sir Vince Cable said the two parties will hold ‘serious but deniable’ talks about a post-election agreement – with a move to a proportional representation voting system on the table.
Sir Keir’s official spokesman did not rule out a coalition last night, instead saying there will be a ‘majority Labour government after the next election’.
Pictured: Liberal Democrat leader Sir Ed Davey talks with Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer in Westminster Abbey ahead of the Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla on May 6, 2023
Pictured: Sir Vince Cable (file photo). Last night the former Lib Dem leader said the two parties will hold ‘serious but deniable’ talks about a post-election agreement – with a move to a proportional representation voting system on the table
There are increasing fears among Tory MPs that Sir Keir will be pressured into accepting voting reform – which would involve a move from first-past-the-post to proportional representation (PR).
Sir Vince, who served as business secretary in the Coalition government with the Conservatives between 2010 and 2015, suggested both parties will likely enter discussions on the matter well ahead of next year’s polling day.
‘Ed Davey is right not to rule out a coalition with Labour but it is highly unlikely that the Lib Dems would go into such an arrangement this side of electoral reform being delivered,’ he wrote for the online forum Comment Central yesterday. ‘A looser ‘confidence and supply’ arrangement is much more plausible, depending on how the numbers look after an election and subject to agreement on reform of the voting system. You can be sure that serious, but deniable, conversations will be taking place over the next year.’
Sir Keir said he would never do a deal with the SNP because of a disagreement over Scottish independence. Labour yesterday appeared to soften its position on scrapping the first-past-the-post voting system, which is set to be a key Lib Dem demand in any Coalition talks. A spokesman for Sir Keir has previously said the Labour leader held a ‘long-standing view’ against PR.
Pictured: Rishi Sunak (file photo). The Prime Minister said Labour were too busy planning pacts while the Tories were ‘getting on and delivering for the British people’
But yesterday, the party refused to rule out backing it in the future, saying only that it would not be in the next manifesto. The campaign to reform the voting system enjoys widespread support in the Labour movement. At Labour’s annual conference last year, delegates passed a motion calling for the party to introduce PR in its first term.
Former Tory minister Matt Warman said: ‘Sir Keir says he won’t answer hypotheticals about a coalition with the Lib Dems then immediately rules out a hypothetical coalition with the SNP. We all know he can’t be trusted to keep his word on either pledge.
‘He’s clearly open to a grubby political deal with anyone – that won’t help the economy, the NHS or tackling immigration.’ Tory backbencher Marco Longhi added: ‘It is clear that Labour will do anything and say anything to gain power.
‘Sir Keir Starmer’s weather vane approach to policy and his alliance with other Left-wing parties is there for all to see.’ Polling experts have suggested Sir Ed’s party will hold the balance of power after the next election with around 40 seats, with Labour – predicted to win around 300 seats – needing their support to have a stable majority in Parliament.
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