David Cameron might attempt to form a minority Conservative government after the election even if he failed to secure a coalition agreement or a majority of MPs in the House of Commons, it has emerged.
Senior Conservatives have said Mr Cameron could declare victory if he gets more seats or votes than Labour on Thursday and attempt to bring forward a Queen’s Speech in the House of Commons.
This would force Labour and the SNP to combine and vote down the Tories’ legislative agenda.
In a further sign that the post-election period could be somewhat chaotic, the SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon has said that her MPs would vote down a future Labour government’s Budget if it held the balance of power in parliament unless Ed Miliband changed his current plans. The former Cabinet Secretary, Gus O’Donnell, told The Independent “it could be weeks” before a new government is formed.
“It could be multi-party, it could be mixtures of coalitions and deals – and the deals may be written or unwritten,” he said. “There are all sorts of possibilities. I suspect all parties involved will definitely take more time to consult.”
A string of polls released over the weekend again suggested that the election is too close to call. Two gave the Conservatives a 1-point lead while another had the two main parties level-pegging.
Should that happen, under convention, Mr Cameron would get the first chance of to try to form a new government and would remain in Downing Street at least until his Queen’s Speech is put to a vote in the House. Senior Tories told The Sunday Times that in that scenario Mr Cameron would declare victory and give a statement in Downing Street on Friday, challenging Mr Miliband to strike a deal with the SNP to bring him down.
They say he will “quickly” argue that Labour cannot claim “legitimacy” to form a government if it is behind in its support and needs nationalist backing. Asked on the Sunday Politics show whether Mr Cameron would test his support by bringing forward a Queen’s Speech, the former Foreign Secretary, William Hague, said: “You would have to see the election results in that scenario.”
In a speech today, Mr Cameron will say that voters face an “inescapable choice” of either him or Mr Miliband in No 10.
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