David Cameron has said he is "more committed" to the coalition with the Lib Dems than he was when it was formed, as he staged a show of unity with Nick Clegg in the wake of the damaging row over House of Lords reform.
Sharing a platform in a Birmingham train factory this morning, the Tory prime minister and his Lib Dem deputy were asked what the chances were that the coalition would last until 2015 as planned.
Clegg said he would put "considerable money" on the deal lasting through to 2015. The prime minister said that while he was "not a bookmaker" he "wouldn't bet against it".
On Sunday, senior Conservative MP Graham Brady said it was "very likely" the coalition will break-up as much as a year before the general election.
His comments came in the wake of the large Tory rebellion against Lib Dem-led plans to reform the House of Lords which strained the relationship between the two parties.
Announcing a £9 billion injection into the rail network, the prime minister sought to dismiss claims that the coalition was on the verge of breaking up.
"I am even more committed to coalition government than I was in May 2010," he said. "I believe it has real purpose, a real mission."
His confidence was shared by the deputy prime minister who said while coalition was not a "walk in the park" he was sure both he and Cameron would "confound the critics" and maintain their partnership through to 2015.
"I think the reasons why this coalition was formed and the purpose of two parties coming together to form a coalition government are as strong today, if not stronger, given all the challenges we face than they were back in May 2010."
"It's tough also to be in government in difficult times. It is not always a walk in the park or in the rose garden," he said in a reference to the first such press conference held in the early days of coalition.
"I think we will confound a lot of the breathless scepticism," he said. "It is no wonder there are some people who come to lose their nerve. We're not going to lose our nerve."
Cameron and Clegg also revealed that they would be publishing a "mid-term review" of the government's performance, which would also set out its agenda for the next two-and-a-half years.
It had been suggested that the Lib Dems and Conservatives would seek to renew their joint government half-way through the term with a fresh programme for government known as 'Coalition 2.0'.
But Clegg said the proposed "mid-term review" would not be a "tablet of stone" as the first programme for government had been.
Labour's Michael Dugher said the two men should be "addressing the needs of the country, rather than patting each other on the back".
"The sight of David Cameron and Nick Clegg congratulating themselves on their ‘success’ at a time when they’ve delivered a double dip recession made in Downing Street shows how out of touch they are," he said. "What planet are they living on?
"David Cameron’s Government is lurching from crisis to shambolic u-turn and back again. In just two years they’ve given us a double dip recession; 4,000 nurses and 15,000 police cut; one million young people unemployed; and a tax cut for millionaires while millions pay more.
"Cameron and Clegg's time would be better spent addressing the needs of the country, rather than patting each other on the back at press conferences. It's the policies that need fixing - not their PR."
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