Cameron And Clegg Renew Coalition Vows

May 8th, 201210:50 am @


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11:22am UK, Tuesday May 08, 2012

David Cameron and Nick Clegg are to put on a show of unity after the coalition parties were handed a drubbing by voters in local elections last week.

The Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister will stress their commitment to working together to fix the economy as they visit a factory in Essex.

Sky News political correspondent Sophy Ridge said: “It is being seen as a relaunch of the coalition two years on from that famous moment in the (Downing Street) rose garden.

“And really both of them are trying to say they are committed to the joint partnership going forward.”

The coalition has been on the defensive since a heavily-criticised Budget and the return of the economy to recession.

The week – being painted as a coalition relaunch – could be overshadowed by some potentially uncomfortable appearances at the Leveson Inquiry which will lay bare Mr Cameron’s close relationship with News International.

Read Sky’s Sophy Ridge on the tricky week ahead for the Prime Minister

The loss of more than 400 local council seats by the Conservatives and 330 by the Liberal Democrats has further complicated things with MPs on both sides distancing themselves from the other party’s policies.

Mr Cameron is expected to warn that the damage done in the financial crash of 2008 was “greater than anyone thought”, while Mr Clegg will liken it to a “giant heart attack”.

Mr Cameron will stress that the coalition’s “number-one priority” is still to keep Britain safe from the crisis in the eurozone and rescue the economy from the “mess” left by the last Labour government

“That was and remains our guiding task and in these perilous times it’s more important than ever for Britain that we stick to it,” he is set to say.

“I don’t hide from the scale of that challenge – or from the message sent by voters in many places in last week’s elections. I’m listening. I’m leading. I get it. There are no closed minds, no closed doors in Downing Street.

Ducking the tough choices would only prolong the pain, condemning the next generation to decades of higher interest rates, poorer public services and fewer jobs.

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg

“I know that the task of driving our economy forward when faced with the headwinds that are blowing in from the eurozone is a formidable one.

“But this Government is determined to do whatever needs doing to succeed.”

In his remarks, Mr Clegg will dismiss claims the coalition has an “ideological obsession” with shrinking the size of the state, arguing there was a “clear moral responsibility” to deal with the deficit and not leave it to future generations.

“Ducking the tough choices would only prolong the pain, condemning the next generation to decades of higher interest rates, poorer public services and fewer jobs,” he is expected to say.

Ahead of their joint appearance, Labour leader Ed Miliband, also in Essex, said Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg needed to learn from the council election results that “economic failure with unfairness piled on top is not the answer”.

At a question-and-answer session with members of the public in Harlow, Mr Miliband said: “What people want from them is answers not excuses, not excuses blaming something else, not excuses blaming the eurozone, but answers about why they promised change and things have got worse not better.

“They promised change, they promised an economy that would grow and things have got worse not better.

“And they promised fairness, they promised that we were all in it together, and things have got worse not better because they are standing up for the wrong people not the right people.”

Mr Miliband said he was happy with Labour’s result but admitted: “I know we have a lot more to do to rebuild that trust”.

He admitted Labour “didn’t do enough on housing” and imposed “too many reorganisations and reforms” on the NHS during its time in power.

But he insisted the coalition Government was not doing enough on key issues like house-building and the economy.

The public appearance by Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg will be followed on Wednesday by the Queen’s Speech in which the coalition’s legislative programme for the next year is announced.

However, in the run-up to the showpiece event, MPs from both sides sought to highlight their differences with their partners.

Some Conservatives set out their own “alternative Queen’s Speech”, including proposals for more grammar schools, a referendum on repatriating powers from the EU, a British Bill of Rights, as well big cuts in capital gains tax and the numbers paying the higher 40p rate of tax.

Lib Dems have reacted angrily to Tory calls for Lords reforms plans to be dropped despite being part of the coalition agreement.

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