By politics.co.uk staff
Shadow business secretary Ken Clarke has indicated the Conservatives would be unwilling to compromise on their economic plans in the event of a hung parliament.
Opinion polls continue to show no party is likely to emerge after the general election with an overall majority. All three parties are privately considering how they would approach such a situation.
Mr Clarke told the Telegraph newspaper: "Our starting point would be to say to the other two parties 'you know you have got to control the deficit and debt', and have a plan our creditors believe for getting rid of the structural deficit over the next parliament.
"If they just sit there and say 'that's just your party platform', my own view is that the economic consequences of abandoning that would be catastrophic.
"The core problem is the debt and the deficit, and the Conservatives have been the most consistently sensible on that. I don't think it would be in the national interest to resile from that."
The Tories are viewed as less likely to form a coalition with Nick Clegg's Liberal Democrats than Labour.
But the prospect remains a possibility. David Cameron may seek to set up a minority administration which could only require Lib Dem support for financial measures - and back the government in the event of a 'no confidence' motion from Labour.