UK Politics

Clegg: I'd never join coalition with UKIP

Nick Clegg
Image caption Mr Clegg suggested UKIP "espoused the politics of grievance and blame"

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has said he would never join a coalition including the UK Independence Party.

The deputy prime minister told journalists that UKIP wanted to "turn the clock back to the 1950s".

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has predicted his party could hold the balance of power after May's general election.

Mr Clegg also called for an extra £1.5bn in NHS funding to be included in Chancellor George Osborne's Autumn Statement next month.

The Lib Dems currently have 56 MPs to UKIP's two, but trail Mr Farage's party in the opinion polls and picked up just 349 votes in last week's Rochester and Strood by-election.

Asked about the result in his monthly press conference, Mr Clegg said there had been a "sharp drop in support for all three main Westminster parties", saying the Lib Dems' decline in vote share was similar to that of Labour and the Conservatives.

'No compromise'

The parties that "espouse the politics of grievance and blame" had done well, he said.

Asked about potential coalitions after May's election, he said: "I will never sit around a Cabinet table with (UKIP leader) Nigel Farage, that's for sure, and I would think the feeling is pretty mutual."

UKIP espoused "a politics that I do not think the Liberal Democrats could ever compromise with", Mr Clegg argued.

Mr Clegg clashed with the UKIP leader in two TV debates before May's European elections, in which the Lib Dem leader argued for the benefits of staying within the EU while Mr Farage said the UK would be better off outside it.

Liberal Democrat Health Minister Norman Lamb recently called for an extra £1.5bn for the NHS in England to prevent a "crash" in services.

Mr Clegg said the cash injection was needed for next winter, and said his proposal was in line with the £8bn a year in extra resources called for by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens.

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