U.K. Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg stored up difficulties for any future coalition between his Liberal Democrats and the opposition Labour Party by attacking its economic credibility and readiness for power.
Clegg, currently in government with Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservatives, has said he is willing to form another coalition after elections in 2015 with the party that wins the most seats in the House of Commons and the biggest share of the vote. Labour is currently leading in opinion polls, making it the party most likely to gain power.
Today, standing in for Cameron during the premier’s weekly question-and-answer session, Clegg told Labour’s deputy leader Harriet Harman her party isn’t “a government-in-waiting,” and not even “an opposition-in-waiting.”
“It’s 18 months before the next general election,” Clegg said, and the public still “has no clue” about what Labour would do. He said the party’s plan to cap energy bills is a “con,” Labour hasn’t apologized for “crashing the economy in the first place” and has failed to “stand up” to labor unions.
To laughter from the Labour side of the chamber Clegg, who was standing in while Cameron is on an official visit to China, also said his party was responsible for the U.K.’s climb out of recession.
“Without the Liberal Democrats there wouldn’t be a recovery,” he said.
By contrast, in an e-mail to supporters last night, Financial Secretary to the Treasury Sajid Javid said the improving economy is down to the Conservatives.
“Only the Conservatives will take the difficult decisions necessary to secure the economy for the future,” he wrote.