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UK: Cameron edges ahead as post-poll deals top agenda

world Updated: May 01, 2015 23:03 IST
Prasun Sonwalkar

The prospect of the Conservative or Labour parties winning outright majority receded in the background as political spin on Friday increasingly focussed on post-election deals likely to be struck.

Top of the day's agenda was Thursday night's mauling leaders of the three main parties - David Cameron, Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg - received from a tough-talking Yorkshire audience during BBC's Question Time.

Cameron emerged the winner from the interaction that witnessed Miliband and Clegg facing questions that were termed 'vicious'. The event was held in the backdrop of the Conservative party inching ahead of Labour in opinion polls.

The prospect of Cameron leading the next government slightly brightened as Miliband said he would prefer to remain in the opposition than lead a government with support from the Scottish National Party (SNP).

Miliband's refusal to have any truck with SNP was dismissed by Cameron on Friday as the latter continued to harp on the perceived dangers to the unity of Britain from Labour coming to power with support from the separatist SNP.

Cameroon said: "What Ed Miliband said last night actually changes nothing. Is he really saying that if Labour don't get a majority but if Labour plus the SNP is a majority 'I won't be PM'? Of course he's not saying that."

Miliband, who has already ruled out a coalition with SNP, went further on television to say: "I am not going to have a Labour government if it means deals or coalitions with the Scottish National Party…It’s not going to happen. I couldn’t be clearer with you”.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said people would appalled at Miliband’s posture: “He sounded as if he was saying that he would rather see David Cameron and the Conservatives back in government than actually work with the SNP”.

House of Commons rules in the event of a hung parliament also favour the incumbent prime minister: “In a situation of no overall control the Government in power before the General Election gets the first chance at creating a government. If they cannot do so, the Prime Minister will resign”.

“The Prime Minister only has to resign if it is clear that they cannot command a majority of the House of Commons on votes of confidence or supply. This would be the case if the incumbent government fails to make a deal with one or more of the other parties, or if they lose a confidence motion in the House of Commons," the rules say.

The first parliamentary test would be the vote on any amendment to the Queen’s Speech (similar to the motion of thanks to President’s address in India’s Lok Sabha).

The television audience in Leeds accused the leaders of lying, asked how they could be trusted when they had broken promises, how Cameron could be proud of a national with a million food banks, where free food is handed out to people in poverty.

As the three tried hard to be polite and submissive to convince the audience, Clegg said, “You are the boss, we are your servants.” Commentators said it was the audience that emerged as stars of the event, and that Cameron emerged the most unscathed.

But it was the image of Miliband stumbling as he walked off the stage that prompted pundits to quip that Thursday was the day he lost it.