Clegg reveals Lib Dems could support Cameron

Lib Dem leader insists he will back whichever party wins the most votes in a hung parliament

The Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, has dampened hopes of an alliance with Labour in a hung parliament by insisting that he will support whichever party wins the most votes.

The prospect of a hung parliament has been revived by a number of opinion polls showing Labour narrowing the Conservatives' lead. On Sunday an Ipsos-MORI poll put the Tories' lead at just six points, with 37 per cent of support, compared with 31 per cent for Labour, the narrowest gap since last December.

If repeated at a general election, such a result would leave David Cameron 38 seats short of an overall Commons majority, raising the possibility of the Liberal Democrats acting as kingmakers.

Speaking on the BBC1's The Andrew Marr Show, Clegg said that he had a democratic duty to back whichever party received the most votes from the electorate.

"The party which has got the strongest mandate from the British people will have the first right to seek to govern," he said.

"I start from a very simple first principle," he added. "It is not Gordon Brown or David Cameron or Nick Clegg who are kingmakers in British politics, it's the British people. The votes of the British people are what should determine what happens. Whichever party has the strongest mandate from the British people, it seems to me obvious in a democracy they have the first right to seek to try and govern, either on their own or with others."

Clegg's comments reveal that he regards the number of votes won rather than the number of seats to be the decisive factor.

While under the first-past-the-post system, there is a slim chance of Labour winning more seats than the Conservatives, it is exceptionally unlikely that they will be able to win more votes.


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