Ed Miliband’s allies are worried that Mr Cameron will attempt to hang on as prime minister if the Conservatives win more seats than Labour but Labour would have more chance of seeing the Queen’s Speech approved by MPs with the backing of the Scottish National Party and other parties. The new government’s programme will be unveiled on May 27, with a vote due on June 4.
Tory insiders suggest Mr Cameron would stay on in the hope that the public would regard the party with the most seats as the winner, while seeing a deal put together by the runner-up as a “coalition of the losers.”
But Labour argues that such a move would breach the rulebook, the Cabinet Manual, which says a prime minister should resign if it is clear he is unlikely to command the confidence of the Commons. Labour says that the leader of the largest opposition party would become prime minister in these circumstances. The Tories insist the rulebook allows a prime minister to wait until Parliament meets. They intend to play for time to force Labour to hold talks with the SNP, hoping that this would provoke a public backlash.
A Labour spokesman said: “David Cameron is trying to focus all attention in these final days on the process question of what happens after the election rather than the decision people have to make in this election. All the noise coming out of the mouths of David Cameron and Nick Clegg is how they can cling on to power even if their Coalition loses its majority.”
Mr Cameron clashed with Nick Clegg after Lord Scriven, a close ally of the Liberal Democrat leader and the party’s campaign spokesman, claimed Mr Cameron had told Mr Clegg recently that the Tories could not win an overall majority.
The Prime Minister accused Mr Clegg of being “desperate.” Mr Clegg did not deny Lord Scriven’s remark, saying he would not “reveal private conversations” but adding: “All I can tell you is that the Conservatives know they’re not going to win a majority.”
Mr Cameron will use 36-hours of non-stop campaigning, including meetings with night shift workers tonight (Tues), to appeal for the support of former Tory supporters not intending to vote on Thursday. In a speech today (tues), he will say there would be “chaos” if he SNP put Mr Miliband into Number 10, and that Mr Clegg would be “no better” as he could support a SNP-backed minority Labour government.
Mr Clegg will take his battle bus on a 1,000-mile, two-day dash taking in seats from Lands End to John O’Groats.