British parties jostle as election polls point to hung parliament

25th April 2010, Comments 0 comments

With polls suggesting a hung parliament after Britain's May 6 election, the leader of likely kingmakers the Liberal Democrats warned Sunday he would not prop up a weakened Prime Minister Gordon Brown.

Nick Clegg, whose party has surged after he performed strongly in TV debates, is unlikely to be able to form a government himself but could team up with Labour or the Conservatives if no party wins an overall majority.

However, he warned Labour, led by Prime Minister Gordon Brown, that he would not support them if they dropped to third in the closely-fought election.

"It is just preposterous the idea that if a party comes third in the number of votes, it still has somehow the right to carry on squatting in Number Ten (Downing Street)," he told the BBC.

"I think a party which has come third -- and so millions of people have decided to abandon them -- has lost the election spectacularly (and) cannot then lay claim to providing the prime minister of this country."

Clegg also told the Sunday Times that Labour was "increasingly irrelevant".

He spoke as opinion polls suggested the Conservatives led by David Cameron had extended their lead, though not by enough to win an outright majority, which would mean a hung parliament.

One of them, a YouGov survey in the Sunday Times, put Tories on 35 percent, a rise of two points, with the Liberal Democrats down one on 28 percent and Labour down three on 27 percent.

Cameron, meanwhile, said he would not support the Liberal Democrats' top demand -- reforming the voting system -- sending a strong signal that the two parties would find it very hard to work together.

"I want us to keep the current system that enables you to throw a government out of office. That is my view," he told the Observer newspaper. "We think this is an important issue."

© 2010 AFP

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