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Labour 'would welcome Lib Dem MPs'

Labour leadership contender Ed Miliband has extended an open invitation for frustrated Liberal Democrat MPs to defect.

The shadow energy secretary said the coalition deal with the Tories was causing "widespread unhappiness" in the parliamentary party and the "welcome mat" was out for activist and senior politicians who wanted to switch sides.

His offer came after former Lib Dem leader Charles Kennedy was forced to quash persistent rumours that he was quitting the party for Labour.

The MP - who refused to endorse the alliance with the Conservatives when it was forged in May - described the speculation as "absolute rubbish".

"I am not joining the Labour Party and have not had any discussions about it with anyone from the Labour Party," he told the Sunday Mail.

"I will go out of this world feet first with my Lib Dem membership card in my pocket."

Speaking on Sky News' Sunday Live programme, Mr Miliband said former Lib Dem voters were turning up to his meetings across the country.

"I also know that there is widespread unhappiness among Liberal Democrat MPs," he added.

Lib Dem leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg tried to laugh off defection rumours yesterday, despite facing the anger of activists during a public question and answer session in Bristol.

"I can't do better than say what Charles has said which is that it's the silliest of the silly-season stories, it's just nonsense so I'm not going to waste any more time on it," Mr Clegg said.


From Belfast Telegraph