Nick Clegg and David Cameron vow the coalition will remain united until the 2015 general election – as the deputy prime minister attacks Tory backbenchers for “game-playing”.
Mr Clegg vowed on Wednesday that the coaliton would “finish what we started”, whilst Mr Cameron separately stated “there is more to come.”
He said the public had seen over the last week “MPs disappearing into a parliamentary rabbit warren, obsessing over this new tactic or that new trick, paving legislation, enabling referendums, wrecking amendments.”
“Anyone watching would be forgiven for asking ‘what are these politicans doing?’,” he said. “It is time to get back to governing, providing the leadership and focus the people of Britain deserve in these difficult times.”
To anyone who doubts the life there is left in the coalition, I would argue there is more to come. David Cameron
Mr Clegg laid out three “reassurances” that he would dedicate himself to ensuring: that the coalition would remain until the next general election in 2015, that the government would focus on restoring the economy, and that the coalition would remain “in the centre ground”.
His comments on a united coalition followed an interview with Mr Cameron at the weekend, in which the prime minister told Total Politics magazine that despite some “frustrations”, the coalition remained the best way to get things done.
“But if that wasn’t the case then we’d have to face the new circumstances in whatever way we should,” he had added.
Mr Clegg said there had been some “creative coverage” of these comments – and said Mr Cameron had merely echoed what both men had been saying all along.
“The best way for us to serve and improve Britain is to finish what we started,” Mr Clegg said.
Mr Cameron also reaffirmed his commitment to the coalition on Wednesday, saying it was “absolutely my intention” to remain in partnership with the Liberal Democrats up until the day of the general election.
He said: “To anyone who doubts the life there is left in the coalition, I would argue there is more to come. Very bold reforming and strong government, and that is what we will be right up till polling day.”
On gay marriage and Europe, the issues that have led to vocal criticism of the prime minster from backbenchers, Mr Clegg said the government needed to focus on the economy as its priority.
Ed Miliband thinks he can nudge the country to the left, luring people over with unfunded spending promises, more borrowing, bigger budgets – a risk-free, pain-free end to austerity. Nick Clegg
“From now until (the) election the coalition will remain focused on the biggest task at hand, fixing the economy,” he said. “Of course Europe and gay marriage are important – these are issues my party cares deeply about – but Britain has faced the most profound economic challenge in living memory.
“Now, more than ever, we cannot allow parliament to be clogged up by these matters simply because they cause the biggest political punch-ups. Our priorities must be people’s priorities: boosting business, creating jobs, helping with the cost of living.”
Mr Clegg also pledged that the government would not “vacate the center ground.” Criticising Labour and the backbench elements of the Conservative party he had previously chastised, the Liberal Democrat leader said politicans were trying to decide for the people what was important to the people.
He said: “There is a mistaken idea, shared by both the Labour leadership and some in the Conservative party, that they decide what people care about in Britain today – the idea that you can take a big marker pen and draw the centre ground wherever it is ideologically convenient for you.
“Ed Miliband thinks he can nudge the country to the left, luring people over with unfunded spending promises, more borrowing, bigger budgets – a risk-free, pain-free end to austerity.
(The centre ground) doesn’t face left, it doesn’t face right, it faces forward. Nick Clegg
Some Conservatives insist the centre of gravity has swung the other way to the right. They seize on people’s reasonable concerns over things like immigration and welfare as proof that the nation has shifted to the right.
“Yet in reality, millions of people across Britian continue to shun the extremes of left and right.”
He said these people simultaneously hold views such as the right for gay people to get married but not forcing church’s to carry out such ceremonies, and how it is unfair for illegal immgrants to get a free ride whilst acknowledging the benefits to Britian immigration has brought.
“In 21st century Britain, the centre ground is modern, balanced, inclusive,” he concluded. “It doesn’t face left, it doesn’t face right, it faces forward.
“And if you stand in the centre ground rest assured, as long as I am deputy prime minister, this coalition will not walk away from you.”