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Tories have 'first right' to form government, says Clegg

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The leader of the Liberal Democrats Nick Clegg has said that the Conservative Party has the “first right” to attempt to form a government in the “national interest”.

As he arrived to cheers from supporters on the steps of the Liberal Democrat headquarters in Westminster, Mr Clegg said it was now for the Tories to prove themselves capable.

He said: “I have said that whichever party gets the most votes and the most seats has the first right to seek to govern, either on its own or by reaching out to other parties and I stick to that view.

“I think it is now for the Conservative Party to prove that it is capable of seeking to govern in the national interest.”

But the Lib Dem leader was the subject of strong overtures from Labour, with senior ministers leaving no doubt that the PM will be ready to deliver their cherished goal of electoral reform in return for a deal which keeps him in Downing Street.

Mr Brown returned to Number 10 this morning with no clear indication of whether he will be able to remain there as Prime Minister.

With 33 seats left to declare, the Conservatives had 291 MPs, with Labour on 248 and the Lib Dems on 51.

The projected results indicated that a Conservative/Lib Dem coalition could provide a solid overall majority in the Commons, but that if Labour was to enter into a deal with Mr Clegg, they would also require the support of smaller parties like the Welsh and Scottish nationalists, the SDLP and Britain’s first Green MP.

Close Cameron confidant Michael Gove indicated that the Tory leader would be “happy to talk” with other parties with the goal of delivering a “strong and stable” Conservative-led government at a time of grave economic uncertainty for the UK.

But other senior Tories made clear that Mr Cameron would wait to see the final shape of the new Parliament before deciding how to proceed.

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