Gisela Stuart Labour MP campaigning against Lisbon in Ireland
The Conservatives are 20 short of an absolute majority, and Lib Dem cum Labour are eleven short. If they tried to team up with Plaid and DUP, they would have a majority of one. Hardly a goer.
There is only one viable deal pursuant to this election, and that is Conservative with Lib Dem which would have a majority of 363-326 = 37, which would be viable.
But there is another sum worth thinking about. The main bone of contention between a Lib Dem and a Conservative will be the EU.
How many eurosceptic MPs are there now?
We know that within Labour there are a number of potential rebels who feel badly about the Lisbon Treaty and its effects. Some are well known such as Gisela Stuart, Kate Hoey (did she make it?) and Austin Mitchell.
If the rebels were mostly compliant while Labour were in power, with heavy tactics used to silence their opposition to Lisbon, how effective will the discipline be in opposition,where MPs have a lot less to lose, and Brown is withering on the vine?
If Labour’s prospects of winning power again are remote, their MPs will start to focus on how they can make a difference in other ways. Could it be that in a showdown between Cameron and CLegg over the EU, potentially collapsing a government based on their alliance, that Labour rebel MPs will come to the rescue?
This could either happen on a casual basis, but what if there were already overtures being made behind the scenes, and a formal group of eurosceptic Labour MPs were to form. Could Cameron in effect form a second or an alternative fallback alliance? On non-EU matters he allies with the Lib Dems, but on EU matters he forms a different power base allied to Labour rebels, the DUP, a handful of Lib Dem rebels and a eurosceptic Green?
Stranger things have happened.
The mathematics are probably in place. There is probably already a majority of eurosceptics in the Commons for the very first time, albeit a rather spread out majority. Events however, such as are happening now, could pull yet them all together. There is much water to flow under the bridge as the new pattern emerges. I will be looking out for the eurosceptic majority to start flexing its muscles one way or another, in whatever mix emerges.
UPDATE – Cameron reports –
That’s why yesterday, I made a big, open and comprehensive offer to Liberal Democrats. I want – and I believe the country expects – our two parties to work out how we can deliver strong and stable government to tackle Britain’s big and urgent problems. Right now, talks are underway. Inevitably, there will be masses of unfounded speculation in the press, but I wanted to tell you my thinking directly, and I hope I’ll be able to give you direct updates as we move forward.
So first, I want to make clear that I do not believe any future government should give more powers to Brussels, be weak on immigration or put the country’s defences at risk. So we will stand firm on these issues.
But I also believe there are many areas of common ground between us and the Liberal Democrats – such as the need for education reform, building a low-carbon economy, reforming our political system, decentralising power, protecting civil liberties and scrapping ID cards.
There are also areas where I believe we in the Conservative Party can give ground, both in the national interest and in the interests of forging an open and trusting partnership. For example, we want to work with the Liberal Democrats to see how we can afford to reduce taxes on the lowest paid. Of course, we hope to see a similarly constructive approach from the Liberal Democrats – not least on the urgent issue of tackling the deficit.
So there you have it. A eurosceptic Prime Minister to be, who will not concede powers to Brussels. He will have done his sums as to how he will hold the line, of course.