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Lib Dem talks over hung parliament deal

By Anna Doble, Channel 4 News

Updated on 08 May 2010

Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg has held behind-closed-doors talks with his MPs in an attempt to gain their backing ahead of coalition talks with the Tories. Comment from Gary Gibbon.

Nick Clegg addresses reporters before talks with Liberal Democrat MPs.

Mr Clegg is forming his negotiating strategy following David Cameron's "big, open and comprehensive" offer to work together in government.

The haggling process is expected to include a demand for "guaranteed" electoral reform and possible Cabinet roles for Liberal Democrats.

Gary Gibbon's blog: battered Lib Dems gather

Channel 4 News political editor Gary Gibbon writes -

They gather battered by the shock and disappointment of Thursday night and sleep-starved. Nick Clegg on his way in again emphasised the four principles he's said must be at the heart of any programme… the fourth one being comprehensive political reform.

There is no sign of him getting what he would describe as that which makes you feel we move soon towards discussion of a lower key "confidence and supply" discussion which allows the Lib Dems to keep at arms length from the Tories but which gives David Cameron no job security in No 10.

Will a hung parliament bring electoral reform?

The talks follow Thursday's general election which produced the first hung parliament in a generation, with the Tories winning the most seats but short of an overall majority.

Senior figures from the Tories and Lib Dems met last night for preliminary talks in central London.

As he departed, Cameron's right-hand man William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary, told reporters: "We've had an initial meeting, can't say more than that."

The Tory team is made up of Hague, shadow chancellor George Osborne, policy supremo Oliver Letwin and Mr Cameron's chief of staff Ed Llewellyn.

On the Lib Dem side home affairs spokesman Chris Huhne, Mr Clegg's chief of staff Danny Alexander, children's spokesman David Laws, and Andrew Stunell, the vice chairman of the campaign team will be brokering any deal.

Who Knows Who: constitutional affairs and the golden triangle

Mr Cameron has promised a committee of inquiry on reforming the electoral system - the key Lib Dem demand.

Hague has also said that Cabinet places could also be on offer.

But despite the prospect of real power for the Lib Dems, Mr Clegg faces a hard sell to his own party - many of whom are instinctively hostile to the Conservatives.

Lib Dem MP for Bath Don Foster has indicated he would not be happy with a Conservative-Lib Dem deal.

He has told the BBC he "leans towards Labour".

Meanwhile, it is reported Gordon Brown and Nick Clegg have "argued" during a phone call. Mr Brown has not given up hope of striking a deal with the Lib Dems that would enable him to remain in office.

The prime minister has indicated he is prepared to legislate immediately on electoral reform with a referendum to enable the public to choose which system they want.

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