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Alternative Vote

Coalition 'will survive AV vote'

Business Secretary Vince Cable said today he was "pretty sure" the coalition Government would survive, even if the Liberal Democrats fail to secure reform of the voting system for Westminster elections.

Mr Cable said his party would take a "mature" approach to the forthcoming referendum on introduction of the alternative vote (AV), although he acknowledged that there was "a lot at stake" for them.

With many Lib Dem activists unhappy about the direction their partnership with the Conservatives is taking, securing voting reform - which would boost their number of seats in the Commons - is now seen as crucial by some in the party if they are to carry on in coalition.

But with the outcome of the referendum on May 5 looking far from certain, Mr Cable insisted that he expected the party to continue in government, even if they did not get the change they wanted.

"I am pretty sure it would. But there is a lot at stake and that is why we are fighting hard for it," he told the BBC1 Politics Show.

He added: "We are a grown-up party, we have not thrown our toys out of the pram because things happen we disagree with. I think you will find the approach to this whole thing is a very mature one."

He also rejected suggestions that Nick Clegg had become too close to the Conservatives after the Lib Dem leader was caught on mic telling David Cameron that it would be difficult to find anything "to bloody disagree on" at the next election.

"We do have disagreements with the Conservatives but we have dealt with them in a businesslike way. Nick and I argue our corner in the coalition, while remaining strong partners within the coalition," he said.

"I think people expected this whole thing would unravel within a few months. It hasn't. You have got one of the strongest governments this country has ever had."