Election 2015

Election 2015: Clegg 'wants to stay' as Lib Dem leader

Nick Clegg Image copyright PA
Image caption Nick Clegg indicated that he wanted to stay as Lib Dem leader whatever the outcome of the election

Nick Clegg says he wants to stay on as Liberal Democrat leader "in all circumstances" after the general election.

The deputy prime minister told Sky News the election was about voters deciding who they wanted alongside either David Cameron or Ed Miliband in government.

He would not say if he would step down if the Lib Dems suffered heavy losses on 7 May, or end up in opposition.

David Cameron attacked the Lib Dems for considering a coalition with Labour.

The Liberal Democrats won 23% of the vote in the 2010 general election, which gave them 57 seats in the House of Commons and led to a coalition government with the Conservatives.

'Bags of energy'

The latest BBC poll of polls for the 2015 election put the Lib Dems on 9%, behind UKIP, which was on 13%. Labour and the Conservatives were tied on 33% each.

Mr Clegg told the Sky News Murnaghan programme: "I have bags of energy, I'm really optimistic about the prospect of Liberal Democrats.

"Of course I want to continue to serve the country and serve my party which I am so proud to have served for seven or eight years now.

Key priorities

Lib Dems

Main pledges

  • Balance the budget fairly through a mixture of cuts and taxes on higher earners
  • Increase tax-free allowance to £12,500
  • Guarantee education funding from nursery to 19 with an extra £2.5bn and qualified teachers in every class
  • Invest £8bn in the NHS. Equal care for mental & physical health
  • Five new laws to protect nature and fight climate change

"I want to carry on leading my party and I want to lead the Liberal Democrats into Parliament, first with a good, sizeable, significant number of Liberal Democrat MPs."

Recent opinion poll ratings suggest the party could lose a large number of its MPs.

But Mr Clegg insisted: "I want to lead the Liberal Democrats into and through the next Parliament in all circumstances."

Mr Clegg told the programme that his coalition with David Cameron ended with a "professional handshake" and it was up to voters to choose a coalition partner for Labour or the Conservatives, as polls pointed to no one party winning an overall majority.

Image caption The prime minister criticised the Lib Dems for being willing to work with Labour

The Lib Dem leader had already announced that his party will not prop up any government "held hostage" by the SNP or UKIP, should there be a hung Parliament.

Labour's Harriet Harman said it suggested Mr Clegg was "prepared to back David Cameron and the Tories once again".

But Mr Cameron, campaigning in Somerset, criticised the Lib Dems for being willing to work with Labour as well as the Conservatives.

He claimed Labour did not deserve "a second chance with the British economy".

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