Jul 8 2012
Liberal Democrats are "not threatening anybody" over Lords reform, Vince Cable insisted as he attempted to play down the prospects of Tory rebels succeeding in scuppering the policy.
Tensions within the coalition are threatening to boil over with as many as 100 of David Cameron's MPs said to be ready to defy the whips in a crunch vote on Tuesday.
Some accuse the junior coalition partner of resorting to blackmail after a senior aide to Nick Clegg said the Lib Dems would block parliamentary boundary changes - expected to favour the Tories - in retaliation.
A string of former cabinet ministers were among Conservative peers reported today to have signed a cross-party letter to MPs opposing the planned switch to an 80% elected upper chamber.
And senior backbencher David Davis said the Government faced a "huge battle" to prevent a highly damaging defeat, predicting that reform would not now happen in this Parliament.
Mr Cable told BBC1's Andrew Marr Show: "We are not talking about walking away. That isn't an issue.
"But there is absolutely no reason why this vote should be lost. All three parties agree that we should have an elected House of Lords, that the present system is completely unsustainable.
"There is no point engaging in a hypothetical debate about something I don't think will actually happen."
Asked about the threat of "broader consequences" of defeat by the Deputy Prime Minister's outgoing strategy director Richard Reeves, Mr Cable said: "We are not threatening anybody. We will vote on those individual merits when the time comes.
"We are working with a businesslike way with our Conservative partners. We disagree on some things but we get on with things."