Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Door Starts to Open on a New Coalition; Lib Dems in Conversations with Labour

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Door Starts to Open on a New Coalition; Lib Dems in Conversations with Labour

Article excerpt

Byline: William Green Political Editor ? 0207 219 4389 ? william.green@ncjmedia.co.uk

NICK Clegg yesterday risked stoking speculation over a future "Lib-Lab" coalition after revealing he has held "lengthy" conversations with South Shields MP David Miliband and other senior Labour figures.

The Liberal Democrat leader has been speaking to David Miliband about youth unemployment and developments in Europe.

Mr Clegg has also spoken to Labour leader Ed Miliband as well as ex-Prime Minister Tony Blair, who represented Sedgefield, and ex-Hartlepool MP and Cabinet minister Lord Mandelson on a range of issues.

The news will stoke speculation about the prospect of a future Lib Dem-Labour coalition. But several North East Labour MPs have expressed concern about such a prospect.

Mr Clegg sought to downplay news of text exchanges between senior Lib Dems and Labour figures, saying people got "wildly overexcited" about politicians talking to each other.

But he has not ruled out doing a deal with Labour after the next general election, due in May 2015.

"Over the last few weeks I have had lengthy conversations with Ed Miliband, David Miliband, Tony Blair, Peter Mandelson, grown up politicians," he said yesterday. "Talking about other things, talking about Europe, political reform. Talking about things which politicians always will continue to talk about."

A spokesman for the Deputy Prime Minister said Mr Clegg and David Miliband discussed a range of issues when they spoke, but particularly about youth unemployment.

The South Shields MP has produced a hard-hitting report on the issue, while Mr Clegg is in charge of the Government's "youth contract" scheme aimed at helping young unemployed people.

A spokesman for David Miliband said: "Nick Clegg asked for a phone call to discuss developments in Europe. …

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