The Liberal Democrats are wedded to the Tories until the bitter end, the party's deputy leader Simon Hughes has insisted.
In an interview with The Huffington Post UK as Lib Dem activists gather in Brighton for their annual conference, Hughes rejects suggestions the party would seek to bailout of the coalition well in advance of the 2015 election in an attempt to win back disillusioned voters.
“My instinct is [the break] will be very late in the day, we have to be there right until the end making sure we deliver as much as possible. Therefore the logic is that we stay there in coalition till the end," he says.
"If we are going to maximise the chances of our re-election, bluntly, we have to make sure that we do things to improve the economic position of our electorate right up until the last moment.
"For us to walk away from or separate from the process of making sure we get the best budgets of 2012 and 2015 would be nonsense."
Hughes, who is on the left of the party, makes it clear that while he expects the coalition to last the full five years, he would have preferred an alliance with Labour if it had been possible, and reveals Labour MPs have increasingly been making overtures to him.
“The backbenchers are just unreconstructed in the way that Tory backbenchers, some of them, always are," he says of his coalition colleagues.
“Of course I want a progressive alliance,” he said. “Obviously there won’t be the same progressive alliance with the Tory party as there would be with enlightened people on the left."
However it is not all bad. Hughes argues that the Lib Dems have "tempered" the Conservatives' natural euroscepticism, and praises the foreign secretary in a way that will not please many Tory MPs.
"William Hague has actually been far more positive and inclusive about Europe than we would have expected," he says
In the interview hughes also reveals why the failure of Lords reform has actually made Lib Dem MPs happy, his future leadership ambitions, the mistake of tuition fees and the cut in the 50p rate of tax, the errors made in the coalition negotiations and the potential for an attack on Iran.
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