The Conservatives appear to be moving closer to a deal with the Liberal Democrats that could see David Cameron finally installed in No 10 as prime minister.
After a marathon talks session lasting more than six and a half hours, the two parties’ negotiating teams left the Cabinet Office saying they would meet again within the next 24 hours.
Following their discussions, Mr Cameron and Nick Clegg then held their second face-to-face meeting in 24 hours, seeing each other this time in the Commons.
But on another day of drama and intrigue at Westminster, it appeared Gordon Brown had still not given up his faint hopes of hanging on to power, slipping out of No 10 for a secret meeting with Mr Clegg.
How the two parties differ on key issues, as set out in their election manifestos:
Conservatives: The NHS budget would be ring-fenced, and a one-off voluntary “insurance premium”, estimated at £8,000, would be introduced to cover potential costs of residential care in old age.
Lib Dems: They reject ring-fencing in principle. They would cut the size of the Department of Health in half, partly through the abolition of quangos.
Conservatives: They plan to eliminate the “bulk” of the Government deficit by 2014, with cuts being implemented immediately, as well as freezing public sector pay for one year in 2011-12.
Lib Dems: They want to at least halve the deficit by 2014, but, crucially, wait until 2011-12 to reduce public spending for fear of jeopardising recovery. They would set a £400 pay rise cap for all public sector workers, initially for two years.