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Burnley's new Lib Dem MP backs Conservatives pact
NEWLY-elected Lib Dem MP Gordon Birtwistle has backed a proposed deal with the Conservatives after the co-untry was left with a hung Parliament.
Mr Birtwistle, who ousted Labour to become Burnley’s MP on Thursday, called on the party to “bury the hatchet” with the Tories, put demands of voting reform to one side and focus on improving the economy.
The Tories and Lib Dems spent yesterday in talks following a frantic weekend of negotiations between the three main parties.
Mr Birtwistle was summoned to London on Saturday to meet Lib Dem MPs and party leader Nick Clegg, and was set to return to the capital this morning.
He said: “My view is that getting the country and the economy sorted as quickly as possible has to be the priority.”
Mr Clegg is facing strong opposition from parts of his party to a deal with the Conservatives, with the Lib Dems seen as closer aligned to Labour on policy matters.
But the Burnley MP, who admitted he was disappointed by his party’s total of 57 seats, said even the flagship policy of electoral reform should not be a dealbreaker.
He said: “If the country was not in financial Armageddon, that would be the number one priority.”
His views were echoed by Tory Ribble Valley Nigel Evans, who said: “Party politics need to be put to one side.”
But Mr Evans, who admitted he was disappointed by his own party’s performance in failing to win an overall majority, insisted the Lib Dems’ goal of a proportional voting system would lead to more confusion and hung Parliaments.
He said: “David Cameron now deserves the chance to govern this country.”
Meanwhile, Mr Birtwistle is set to be replaced as council leader by Gannow councillor Charlie Briggs, pending a meeting of the full council.
The decision was taken at an internal group meeting after a ballot today.
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