William Hague: Going into coalition was right choice
The creation of the coalition was "right" and a better choice than a minority Tory government "muddling through", Foreign Secretary William Hague has said.
He told the Conservative Party conference in Birmingham that the AV voting system referendum would be held with the Conservatives honouring their word.
But he added that they would recommend to voters that they reject any change to the current voting system.
Mr Hague said the coalition was now trying to clear up the "miserable mess" left to it by Labour, saying George Osborne had been able to tackle the deficit "in the nick of time".
Mr Hague said that after the election "we could have tried that day to play the situation in our own party interest, to have attempted to run a minority government for a few months and hoped a snap election could produce something better".
"Like Labour in the 70s, we could have tried to muddle through. But this party, the Conservative Party, has never been about narrow party interest. We exist to serve the country, to do the right thing by Britain as a whole.
"What would it have meant for Britain, a weak government with an uncertain future presiding over a tottering economy with markets panicking and debt out of control and no guarantee that we could even pass a budget?
"That choice would have been the choice of irresponsibility, of putting party before country."
Mr Hague paid tribute to Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg for deciding to go into coalition government.
He concluded: "While Labour stands alone once again for vested interest, our government has come together in the national interest. Once again the Conservative Party, this time in coalition, has the task of arresting and reversing a national decline. And once again we will show the world that Britain can do it."