How long can the negotiations go on?

May 11, 2010

It should have been all over now. But no, we’re on day five and no one really seems to know which way things are going to go.

All over Westminster, people are looking tired. Journalists, politicians, aides and most of all the 24-hour news anchors.

You only had to watch Sky News’ Adam Boulton going at it with former Blair spin doctor Alistair Campbell live on air on Monday night too see that tempers are clearly getting frayed.

So how much longer? Nick Clegg says soon but nothing seems imminent. The LibDems are still talking with Labour. They may talk more with the Conservatives too.

“It’s too early,” said one Conservative source. “It”s finely balanced,” said a Labour one.

In the meantime, huge numbers of reporters are staking out Portcullis House, the new adjunct to the Palace of Westminster.

But it’s slim pickings. David Cameron walks through. So does George Osborne. But for now they’re just waiting too.

Discontent is already brewing in the Tory ranks, questioning why Cameron didn’t put a time limit on negotiations. It has given too much power to the LibDems, they grumble.

The right-wing press is getting ready to scream blue murder if the LibDems don’t come up with some kind of deal tonight. And markets are also getting a bit antsy at the power vacuum.

A LibDem spokeswoman said she doesn’t want to put a timeframe on things but Clegg will have to make his mind up soon.

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