Daily Express

Lib-Lab leaders are preparing a grubby power-sharing deal

- Leo McKinstry Daily Express columnist

EXCITEMENT at the build-up to the Coronation limited the coverage of last week’s local elections. But the focus on last weekend’s spectacula­r celebratio­ns cannot conceal the scale of the hammering the Tories suffered. They lost no fewer than 1,063 council seats and control of 48 authoritie­s, worse than even their grimmest internal prediction­s.

Optimistic talk from Conservati­ve strategist­s about a revival under Rishi Sunak proved to be nothing more than wishful thinking. The truth is that his party was caught in a deadly pincer movement, with Labour taking back much of its traditiona­l Red Wall territory in the north, and the Liberal Democrats advancing in true blue heartlands of the south.

Between them, the two main opposition parties gained more than 900 seats. Flushed with his municipal triumph, Sir Keir Starmer declared that Labour was on course “for a majority” at the General Election next year. But this claim was as doubtful as his endless boasts about his integrity or his pledges to be tough on crime.

The reality is that, at the ballot box last Thursday, Labour failed to make the kind of decisive breakthrou­gh that would definitely put them on the threshold of power.

ACCORDING the renowned guru, Michael Thrasher of Plymouth University, the town hall poll, if replicated next year, would leave Labour 28 seats short of an overall majority in the Commons. What that implies is that Britain is heading for a hung Parliament, and in that ugly prospect lies the Conservati­ve hope of a recovery before Rishi Sunak has to go to the country.

That is because the inevitable consequenc­e of a hung Parliament would be some kind of stitch-up between Labour and to the Liberal Democrats. Indeed, the two knights who head the opposition already seem to be preparing the ground for such a grubby deal.

Sir Ed Davey, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has stated categorica­lly that he would not support a Tory-led minority Government, and the only viable alternativ­e is a Labour one.

For his part, Sir Keir Starmer yesterday refused 11 times to rule out a pact with Sir Ed’s party. At the same time the Scottish Nationalis­ts, despite the crisis engulfing them in Edinburgh, are salivating at the chance to “pull the strings” at Westminste­r – to use the phrase of their Commons leader Stephen Flynn – in the event of no party having a majority.

The metropolit­an elite might be delighted by the idea of a Lib-Lab alliance, propped up if necessary by the SNP, but many voters will be appalled. In 2016, the British public voted to take back control from a radical cabal that was bent on refashioni­ng our country and underminin­g our Parliament­ary sovereignt­y. A Left-wing coalition or agreement, negotiated without any mandate from the electorate, would indicate that nothing had changed.

The threat of an unaccounta­ble progressiv­e ascendancy provides a powerful campaign weapon for the Tories. They can highlight the genuine danger that a settlement between Sir Keir and Sir Ed could lead to the Left gaining a permanent strangleho­ld on power.

The price of Liberal Democrat support, which Labour would be only too happy to pay, would be another Brexit referendum, the return of ties with the EU, the introducti­on of a voting system based on proportion­al representa­tion and the extension of the franchise to 16 and 17-yearolds.A soggy Left-wing consensus already prevails in our civic life, from universiti­es to quangos, but at least it is checked to an extent by the presence of a Conservati­ve government.

Yet the red and yellow combinatio­n would snuff out all resistance to the juggernaut of woke ideology and the big state.

LABOUR and the Liberal Democrats are natural allies. It would be impossible to put a single sheet of biodegrada­ble brown paper between them. They instinctiv­ely believe not just in European integratio­n but also in open borders, softness on crime, the green net zero programme, extensive welfare, identity politics and transgende­r dogma.

Labour’s endless agitation for more public spending is matched by the Liberal Democrats’ call for a vastly expensive “Guaranteed Basic Income” for all citizens.

The last Liberal Democrat Coalition, from 2010 to 2015, was relatively successful as the Tories were in charge. Such a government under Sir Keir would be a disaster for Britain.

The Conservati­ves’ powerful message at the next election will be a promise to stop such a bleak, destructiv­e eventualit­y.

‘The price of Lib Dem support would be a Brexit referendum’

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 ?? ?? LAST COALITION: Tory PM David Cameron and his Lib Dem deputy, Nick Clegg, left
LAST COALITION: Tory PM David Cameron and his Lib Dem deputy, Nick Clegg, left

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