Liberal Democrat deputy leader Simon Hughes has indicated that the party will demand concessions on issues like NHS reform and immigration in retaliation for the Conservative conduct of the campaign against electoral reform.
Mr Hughes said the coalition government would survive the bruising experience of the yesterday’s Alternative Vote referendum, but that in future it was likely to stick to those policies which were included in last year’s coalition agreement.
Anything outside the agreement would become policy only if agreed by Lib Dems, he said.
His comments came after former party leader Lord Ashdown today launched a scathing attack on David Cameron, accusing the prime minister of a “breach of faith” in permitting a largely Conservative-funded No to AV campaign, which targeted Nick Clegg personally.
While Lord Ashdown agreed the coalition would survive, he made clear that the nature of the campaign would change the atmosphere of the Conservative-Liberal Democrat partnership.
In an interview with The Times, Lord Ashdown said: “You cannot fund a deeply vicious campaign to destroy the personality of your partner, who has been unmoved in his brave support of the coalition, without there being consequences.
“When it comes to the bonhomie of the Downing Street rose garden, it’s never again glad confident morn.”
Liberal Democrats are said to be furious at the decision of the No campaign to focus its fire on Mr Clegg, and believe that Mr Cameron could have stepped in to stop it doing so.