London: Britain`s business minister has
privately indicated he could quit and "bring the government
down" if he is pushed too far in talks with the Conservatives,
in remarks published Tuesday.
Liberal Democrat Business Secretary Vince Cable told
undercover reporters from The Daily Telegraph newspaper the
situation in the coalition was like "fighting a war" and he
could use the "nuclear option" of walking away.
Cable, one of the most high profile and popular members
of the government, said that he was "embarrassed" by the
remarks but insisted he had no intention of resigning.
While tensions in the coalition emerged in a recent vote
to raise university tuition fees -- a measure previously
opposed by the Lib Dems -- Cable`s comments suggest divisions
are opening up at the highest level of government.
They will raise questions over whether the
Conservative-Lib Dem coalition, formed after inconclusive
polls in May, can survive until the planned date of the next
general election in May 2015.
During the conversation with the undercover reporters,
who were posing as constituents in his southwest London
constituency, Cable said the operation of the government was a
"constant battle" between the coalition partners.
The minister said he would pick his fights carefully but
was clear that he could bring an end to the coalition if he
"I have a nuclear option; it`s like fighting a war. They
know I have nuclear weapons, but I don`t have any conventional
weapons. If they push me too far then I can walk out and bring
the government down and they know that," he said.
"So it is a question of how you use that intelligently
without getting involved in a war that destroys all of us.
That is quite a difficult decision to be in and I am picking
He also criticised the speed at which the coalition was
trying to push through change, and suggested the Lib Dems
should be "putting a brake on it."
"There is a kind of Maoist revolution happening in a lot
of areas like the health service, local government, reform,
all this kind of stuff, which is in danger of getting out of
control. We are trying to do too many things, actually," he said.
In a statement late yesterday, Cable said that he
remained committed to the coalition and was not planning to
"Naturally I am embarrassed by these comments and I
regret them," he said.
"I have no intention of leaving the government. I am
proud of what it is achieving and will continue to play my
full part in delivering the priorities I and my party believe
in, which are enshrined in the coalition agreement."