Nick Clegg has said he would be willing to continue to working with David Cameron in a coalition government after the general election.
Asked whether he could do business with the Tory leader in a future government, Clegg said: “Oh sure, of course.
“We managed to do so for five years through thick and thin. We had some pretty intense debates and arguments along the way,” he said. “I take quite an unsentimental view of politicians’ duty to do the right thing by the country.”
The Liberal Democrat leader said he did not think politicians should start indulging in their own “likes or dislikes or whims or wishes” when it came to forming coalitions.
“If you go into public service, as I have, to try and do your bit for the good of the country, that is what you’ve got to do day in, day out and it means sometimes means working with people you don’t agree with. In my case, working with the Conservatives who I don’t agree with and don’t agree with me.”
Asked whether he trusted the prime minister, Clegg said: “We found a way of working together and that’s the bottom line, and that’s what the country expected of us in May 2010.”
He made the comments in the Lib Dem-held constituency of Cheadle, in Greater Manchester, which Mark Hunter won in 2010 by a margin of six percentage points.
Clegg is due to take part in a seven-way leaders’ debate, which will be televised live on ITV on Thursday night, and which Clegg said he would prepare for with a brisk walk.
The deputy prime minister was asked similar questions about whether he would work with the Labour leader, Ed Miliband, with whom he said he’d had no formal talks.
“Ed Miliband and I have seen each other a bit at state events and so on, of which there have been quite a spate over the past several years. But party leaders don’t spend a lot of time hanging out in the pub together, it doesn’t work like that,” he said.
Asked whether he trusted Miliband, Clegg replied: “Of course I can imagine circumstances in which the Liberal Democrats govern with another party because we’ve done it once before and we can do it again if that is what the British people want, if that is what they ask of us, if that is what is right for the country, and if we can do it in line with our values and instincts.
“I don’t want the Liberal Democrats to wrangle ourselves into power for the sake of it,” he added.
He said he thought the outcome of the election would make it clear what the “instructions from the British people” were in regards to forming coalitions. “Then its up to the parties to decide for themselves whether they want to enter into discussions and so on.”
The Liberal Democrats have ruled out forming a coalition with the Scottish National party and Ukip, and on LBC radio on Thursday morning Clegg said he would not want to be part of a “rainbow” coalition of many political parties.
“I think this idea that you have a sort of government with a whole array of single-issue parties all pulling this way and that, I think it’s a recipe for, well it’s a recipe for insomnia as votes will be strung out night after night after night in the House of Commons but it’s also a recipe for kind of a sort of messy of way of governing the country.”
A key message in the Liberal Democrat general election campaign is that they could be a moderating force on whichever of the largest parties they might go into government with, promising to provide a heart to a Conservative-led coalition and a spine to a Labour-led coalition.
This article was written by Frances Perraudin, for theguardian.com on Thursday 2nd April 2015 17.19 Europe/Londonguardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010