Barely hours before voting on Thursday, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg caused a flutter across political circles on Tuesday by suggesting that another election was likely before Christmas since “everyone knows that no one will win this election”.
As leaders criss-crossed the country to appear at carefully choreographed events to make final appeals for votes, Clegg issued a statement that quickly went viral. Mention of another election was quickly interpreted as an appeal for stability with his party joining another coalition.
Clegg said, “Everybody knows that no one will win this election — even if David Cameron and Ed Miliband won’t admit it publicly. That means that politicians will have to work together to put the country first”.
“The Liberal Democrats have shown that coalitions can be strong. But instead of creating stability, Labour and the Conservatives will create a shambles... The last thing Britain needs is a second election before Christmas. But that is exactly what will happen if Ed Miliband and David Cameron put their political interest ahead of national interest. The only party that will ensure stability is the Liberal Democrats,” he said.
The reality is that after the Fixed-term Parliament Act was passed in 2011, a mid-term election is not possible unless a motion for an early general election is agreed either by at least two-thirds of the whole House or without division or; a motion of no confidence is passed and no alternative government is confirmed by the Commons within 14 days.
As former PM Gordon Brown joined Labour leaders to seek a clear majority, the Liberal Democrats issued another statement setting out the difficult issues that would arise if a minority government were to come to power after Thursday’s elections.