Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 28 July 2015

After the Cameron-Clegg love-in, cracks start to appear in new coalition

Published 14/05/2010 | 02:00

New Prime Minister David Cameron (left) with the new Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
New Prime Minister David Cameron (left) with the new Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg
Prime Minister David Cameron greets Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg at the door of No. 10 Downing Street on May 12, 2010.
Prime Minister David Cameron (left) with Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg on the steps of 10 Downing Street in central London
PM David Cameron
David Cameron
Harriet Harman, Labour's deputy leader leaves Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on May 10, 2010 in London, England
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street after an audience with The Queen at which she invited him to form a new government
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, wave on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street after an audience with The Queen
New Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife Samantha meet Cabinet Secretary Gus O'Donnell in the Cabinet Room of 10 Downing Street, London, after an audience with The Queen at which she invited him to form a new government
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, stand in Downing Street after an audience with The Queen
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Buckingham Palace after receiving an invitation from Britain's Queen Elizabeth II to form a new government
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, stand in Downing Street
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, stand in Downing Street
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, stand in Downing Street after an audience with The Queen at which she invited him to form a new government
The official Buckingham Palace document released by the press office, announcing Queen Elizabeth II's request for David Cameron to form a new administration
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, wave on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street
Britain's new Prime Minister David Cameron and his wife, Samantha, on the doorstep of 10 Downing Street
Staff listen to British Prime Minister Gordon Brown making a statement as he leaves Downing Street on May 11, 2010 in London, England
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets David Cameron at Buckingham Palace in an audience to invite him to be the next Prime Minister
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II greets David Cameron at Buckingham Palace in an audience to invite him to be the next Prime Minister
The new Prime Minister David Cameron leaves Buckingham Palace on May 11, 2010 in London, England
Prime Minister David Cameron and wife Samantha Cameron stand on the steps of Downing Street
Prime Minister Gordon Brown, his wife Sarah and their sons James Fraser and John leave Downing Street on May 11, 2010 in London, England. After five days of negotiation a Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government has been confirmed
Prime Minister Gordon Brown gives a statement outside 10 Downing Street
Prime Minister Gordon Brown has announced his resignation
Prime Minister Gordon Brown speaks about the current state of Government and announces that he will step down as Labour leader, outside number 10 Downing Street on May 10, 2010 in London
Possible candidates to replace Gordon Brown as leader of the Labour Party (1st row, left - right) Harriet Harman, Alan Johnson, David Miliband (2nd row, left - right) Ed Balls, Jack Straw and Ed Miliband. David Miliband emerged as early favourite to take over from Gordon Brown as the next Labour leader, according to bookmakers. The Foreign Secretary is the front-runner in the Labour leadership contest with the bookmakers Paddy Power, William Hill and Ladbrokes.
Television crews conduct interviews with politicians and journalists into the night adjacent to the Houses of Parliament on May 10, 2010
Gordon Brown jokes with David Miliband - the man who could now replace him as Labour leader
Foreign Secretary David Miliband leaves Downing Street on May 10, 2010 in London, England.
William Hague, the Conservative Shadow Foreign Secretary, addresses media outside the Houses of Parliament on May 10, 2010
Electoral reform protesters demonstrate outside the Workers Foundation in Westminster on May 10, 2010 in London, England
An electoral reform protester wears a mask depecting David Cameron as they gather outside the Workers Foundation in Westminster on May 10, 2010 in London, England
An electoral reform protester wears a mask depecting David Cameron as they gather outside the Workers Foundation in Westminster on May 10, 2010 in London, England
Conservative Party education spokeman Michael Gove gestures to a colleague at Parliament on May 10, 2010 in London, England
Conservative Party education spokeman Michael Gove (L) talks with former Liberal Democrat MP Lembit Opik at Parliament on May 10
Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, leaves Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on May 10, 2010 in London, England
Peter Hain, the Welsh secretary, leaves Downing Street following a cabinet meeting on May 10, 2010
Secretary of State for Health Andy Burnham arrives for a cabinet meeting at 10 Downing Street, London on May 10, 2010 in London

A day after the love-in between David Cameron and Nick Clegg, the new coalition Government came down to earth yesterday as Tory MPs expressed doubts that the partnership would last.

The unity between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats showed its first signs of cracking as Tory backbenchers began to question the Government's policies on electoral reform, Europe and a controversial plan to change the Commons rules to prevent a General Election being triggered.

Although the first meeting of the Cabinet was good humoured, reality dawned with appeals for any differences between the two partners to be kept private. A committee, jointly chaired by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg, will be set up to resolve them.

Lord Heseltine, the Tory former Deputy Prime Minister, said the inevitable public spending cuts would cause “terrible strains” between the two coalition parties and within them. “We are living in a false dawn,” he said. “The sun is shining. Let's enjoy it. It is not going to last very long. There is a rocky road ahead.”

Tory MPs questioned the plan for the coalition to last for five years and doubted it would survive until the next General Election.

Richard Drax, the new Tory MP for South Dorset, said he had grave concerns about how long the agreement would last. Although he could see why it had been made in the national interest, he added: “I have severe reservations about how long a coalition with the Lib Dems can last and about the consequences for our party in the long term.”

Ian Liddell-Grainger, Tory MP for Bridgwater, said the coalition would do well to last two years. “I think if it lasts a couple of years, this Government has done well. The Lib Dems will find it more difficult to take criticism than we will.”

Some Tory MPs privately threatened to vote against a Bill to call a referendum on the use of the alternative vote system for Commons elections.

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