Most Tories oppose future coalition with Lib Dems
Andrew Grice has been Political Editor of The Independent since 1998. He was previously Political Editor of The Sunday Times, where he worked for 10 years, and he has been a Westminster-based journalist since 1982. His column, Inside Politics, appears in The Independent each Saturday.
Sunday 29 September 2013
David Cameron faces a grassroots rebellion by Conservative Party members if he tries to form a second coalition with the Liberal Democrats after the 2015 election.
A survey of 800 members by the ConservativeHome website found that 52 per cent are broadly or completely opposed to a continuing coalition, while only 36 per cent are broadly or completely supportive.
Mr Cameron will use the Tory conference to reassure activists he is "hungry" to win an overall majority in 2015. But a book published on Monday claims he has already raised the prospect of another coalition with Nick Clegg.
Tory members are braced for another hung parliament. Two out of three (64 per cent) believe Mr Cameron will still be prime minister after next election but only 22 per cent think the Tories will win an overall majority. Twice as many expect the party to be in power without a majority, with 21 per cent predicting a second coalition and the same proportion a minority Conservative government.
Some 59 per cent of Tory members think the current Coalition is good for Britain, while 35 per cent disagree. But only one in three (33 per cent) believes it is good for the Conservative Party, while 61 per cent disagree. Despite that, only 28 per cent want to end the Coalition before 2015, and 71 per cent do not.
Some 71 per cent of Tory members want Mr Cameron to lead the party into next election, a higher figure than in previous ConHome surveys.
In the future leadership stakes, Boris Johnson is the grassroots' favourite to succeed Mr Cameron. The Mayor of London has the support of 23 per cent of members, ahead of Michael Gove, the Education Secretary (20 per cent); Theresa May (17 per cent) and William Hague, the Foreign Secretary and former leader (16.5 per cent).
In his book on the Coalition, “In It Together,” the journalist Matthew d’Ancona claims Mr Cameron has opened talks with Mr Clegg on continuing their partnership after accepting that “the arithmetic in the Commons meant that a second hung parliament was entirely possible.” He also claims Mr Clegg told Mr Cameron he could not form a coalition with Ed Miliband.
Mr Hague told BBC Radio 5 Live on Sunday that the Tories will be “going flat out” to win a majority in 2015. “We’re not sitting here planning another coalition or trying to decide the terms of another coalition,” he said.
The Foreign Secretary conceded that the Tory party would have “some say” before a second coalition was agreed, after complaints that there was no consultation over the 2010 deal. “When people in a party want a say over something, I don’t think you can resist that,” he said.
A Downing Street spokesman said: "There are not, nor have there been any plans or talks to form a coalition post 2015. The Prime Minister is entirely focused on running the country."
A Lib Dem spokesman said: “There have been no talks about another coalition and there won’t be until the British people have had their say at the ballot box. We will take our marching orders from the British people.”
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