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Parties pull out stops for votes

Party leaders are criss-crossing the country in a frenetic final round of campaigning ahead of Thursday's election - with David Cameron predicting a high turnout in one of the closest contests in living memory.

Opinion polls remained unmoved by the last-ditch pitches for votes, one putting the Tories ahead of Labour by 32% to 30% and another showing a Labour lead by 34% to 33%.

With the numbers pointing to another hung parliament, Ed Miliband told voters a fresh coalition between the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats posed a "huge risk" to working families.

LIb Dem leader Nick Clegg said unless his party wielded sufficient influence to form a coalition with either main party that commanded a Commons majority, the country could be forced back to the ballot box by Christmas.

The leaders delivered their 11th hour messages as they continued battlebus tours across the length and the breadth of Britain in a desperate late push to secure a decisive advantage.

But Ukip leader Nigel Farage cancelled a planned visit on the penultimate evening day of campaigning as his party faced more questions about candidates' extreme views as it suspended one and issued an apology by another.

A video of Robert Blay telling Mirror investigators he would "put a bullet" in his Conservative opponent Ranil Jayawardena if he became the UK's first Asian prime minister was published by the newspaper.

"His family have only been here since the 70s. You are not British enough to be in our parliament ," he went on to say, accusing the would-be MP for North East Hampshire's Sri Lankan father of having "ponced off" the UK state.

A Ukip spokesman said Mr Blay had been suspended as soon as the "abhorrent" remarks came to light - and offered an apology to Mr Jayawardena.

It also pointed to Mr Blay's "long career" as a Conservative as evidence such views were not confined to its ranks.

Another of the euroscep tic party's candidates - John Leathley - said he was "appalled and deeply ashamed" about lewd and offensive comments he made on social media about a leading journalist.

The Durham University student, who is standing in Sedgefield, issued an apology to liberal newspaper columnist Yasmin Alibhai-Brown for the string of comments she said were sexist, racist and violent.

The Prime Minister - embarked on a through-the-night tour of key Tory target seats - said Ed Miliband was a "very dangerous person" using a "con trick" to get into Downing Street.

In an interview with the Press Association, Mr Cameron said there would be a "real question of credibility" if Mr Miliband entered Number 10 without being leader of the largest party in the Commons.

"This whole thing about a Labour government backed by the SNP in government people feel deeply uneasy about, because it would be a government held to ransom by a group of people that don't want the UK to succeed," he said.

"So there is a massive credibility problem.

Mr Cameron added: "I think he has made a rather false promise because he keeps saying no deal with the SNP, but of course he does not rule out becoming PM on the back of SNP votes."

"I think people can see straight through that.

Rejecting criticism of the way he has conducted the campaign, Mr Cameron said he believed the public was engaged and predicted turnout on Thursday would be high.

"I always thought this would be a very tough campaign, a very close campaign," he said. "So we always thought it would be a late decision making campaign."

Mr Clegg told PA he would not form a coalition with either the Tories or Labour that would not guarantee a majority in the Commons.

The Liberal Democrat leader said any administration would have to be able to govern - and restated his staunch opposition to any combination that relied on the support of the SNP or Ukip.

"I have certainly made it quite clear that I am not going to enter into any pacts, deals or arrangements which would in practice mean that a government is on a life support system which can be switched off by Nigel Farage or Alex Salmond, so there you have your answer," he said about the prospect of wider deals.

Mr Miliband told the BBC he was "ready" to do " my duty to change this country for working people" as he stepped up warnings that the Tories would "wreck" the NHS and highlighted his pledge to scrap the "non dom" tax rule as one "red line" he would require in any negotiations over the formation of a new government.

He rejected Institute for Fiscal Studies analysis that debt would be £90 billion higher by 2020 under Labour than the Tories.

Asked if he accepted his party would borrow far more than the Conservatives he said: "I don't believe we would.

"I deny it on the basis of their record. Their record shows they don't meet their borrowing plans and I don't believe they will meet them this time."

Mr Miliband has pledged to end to the non-dom status if he wins on May 7, claiming it is "state-sponsored" tax evasion.

"We can't carry on as a country where there is one rule for a few and another rule for everyone else," he will say.

"There is huge risk to working families from a second term Tory government, including one propped up by the Lib Dems.

"They will raid your family budget, they will cut your NHS, but they will continue to protect the privileged few."


From Belfast Telegraph