UK’s Clegg considers gov’t deal with Conservatives

* Liberal Democrats mull Conservative offer of deal

* Party likely to struggle with supporting centre-right

By Jodie Ginsberg

LONDON, May 8 (BestGrowthStock) – The leader of Britain’s Liberal
Democrats, Nick Clegg, will seek backing from senior party
members on Saturday for a possible deal with the Conservatives
that may give them their first role in government for decades.

The centre-right Conservatives won most seats in an election
on Thursday but failed to secure an overall majority, meaning
they need the support of smaller parties to form a stable
government that can tackle Britain’s record budget deficit.

Clegg must overcome scepticism among a significant number of
Liberal Democrats, who fear that Britain’s third party would be
forced to sacrifice too many cherished policies for a deal.

But financial markets, already rattled by a debt crisis in
Greece, want a new government to be formed quickly so it can set
about reducing the deficit swiftly and decisively.

The pound, gilts and stock market all fell on Friday when it
became clear the Conservatives would not have a parliamentary
majority, despite beating the incumbent Labour Party soundly.

Conservative leader David Cameron appealed to the
centre-left Liberal Democrats on Friday, saying he would
consider some kind of formal agreement with them.

This could include a coalition, a rarity in Britain, but is
more likely to involve a pact whereby the Lib Dems agree to
support a Conservative-led minority government implementing an
agreed legislative programme and in return for concessions.

The biggest hurdle is agreement on the pace of lowering the
budget deficit. The Conservatives have pledged to start cutting
it immediately but the Lib Dems warn this could harm Britain’s
recovery from a deep recession in 2008-2009.

Electoral reform, along with immigration, Britain’s role in
the European Union and defence, are also likely to be stumbling
blocks. The Lib Dems have long pushed for a change to Britain’s
first past the post voting system in favour of proportional
representation.

Clegg has to persuade Lib Dem members of parliament that it
is worthwhile to make concessions, even though many party
members are sceptical.

“I will never consider voting for the Lib Dems again if a
Conservative/Lim Dem pact is the outcome of this election!” one
supporter said on Liberal Democrat Voice, a web site for party
activists. [ID:nLDE6462AN]

If the Liberal Democrat/Conservative talks fail, a deal
between the Lib Dems and Labour is possible, but unlikely as the
two parties combined would not have enough MPs to form a
majority in the 650-seat House of Commons.

Labour leader Gordon Brown has said the Conservatives and
Liberal Democrats had the right to try to form a government
first even though he is allowed as sitting Prime Minister to
have the first try under Britain’s constitution.

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(Editing by David Stamp and Michael Roddy)

UK’s Clegg considers gov’t deal with Conservatives