Vince Cable has denied the Liberal Democrats are “threatening” to block proposed boundary changes if Tory MPs torpedo plans to reform the House of Lords.
The Business Secretary, speaking on the BBC’s Andrew Marr programme on Sunday morning said his party were “not threatening anybody.”
“We’re working in a business-like way, with our Conservative partners. We disagree over certain things, but we get on with things. We’re concentrating on the economy, which is the key area and we’ve in the past found ways of dealing with these issues. But those sorts of issues have got to be confronted on their merits, and they will be.”
He added: “We’re not talking about walking away from the Coalition. That isn’t an issue. There is absolutely no reason why this vote should be lost – all three parties agree on House of Lords reform, they all agree we should have an elected House of Lords, that the present system is completely unsustainable.”
The comments came after a senior Lib Dem warned there would be "consequences" if up to 100 Tory MPs defeat the programme motion for the House of Lords Reform Bill.
Richard Reeves, Nick Clegg’s outgoing director of strategy told The Independent: "It is a very serious moment for the government.
"The vote is hugely significant. It is the critical moment for Lords reform, a once-in-a-generation chance to secure it."
And in a parting shot at the Tories, Reeves said if Tory rebels conspired to ruin plans to reform the Lords then Lib Dems would take revenge - and could block boundary changes proposed to go through in 2015. "The idea that failure to deliver a government commitment on Lords reform would be consequence-free is for the birds," he said.
Under the provisions of the Parliamentary Voting System and Constituencies Act 2011, the number of MPs will be cut from 650 to 600.
The move will see the electoral map re-drawn in such a way that would be likely to benefit the Conservatives, however the final boundaries are yet to be approved by MPs.
A parliamentary vote on Tuesday will determine how long MPs can debate the proposals for a 80% elected second chamber for, with opponents of the reforms hoping to drag out the debate for as long as possible in order to scupper the Bill.
Coalition tensions are mounting ahead of the vote, with Mark Harper, the Conservative minister overseeing the plans to reform the House of Lords accused Tories of playing “silly games” with the future of the coalition.
Harper told the Guardian: "I would disagree with the contention that it is a Lib Dem bill. It was in the last three Conservative manifestos. It's been Conservative policy to have a mainly elected House of Lords since 1999."
Labour are likely to vote against the programme motion and could successfully defeat the government if joined by a significant number of Tories.
On Sunday morning, Conservative MP Nadine Dorries told Sky News she would not be voting for the Bill, and she could be joined by as "many as 110" rebels.