By politics.co.uk staff
Nick Clegg has signalled his readiness to enter into government with Labour after the next general election, after Vince Cable said he "wouldn't exclude" a leadership bid himself.
Clegg, who has been dismissed by many voters as a 'closet Tory' after entering government with David Cameron's party, told the People that he and his party would do their "duty" by working with Labour if the next general election returns a hung parliament.
"If the British people, like they did last time, say no-one has won, then I'll be open to working with other parties," he said.
"If the British people said that was the only combination which could work would be those two parties, in the same way as after the last election the only combination which could work was Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, it would be obvious that Liberal Democrats would need to do their duty."
There are still nearly three years to go until the next general election, with Clegg having to negotiate the perils of Lib Dem policy differentiation before attempting to save as many seats of his party's MPs as possible.
If Clegg did not make it through this process, as many in Westminster acknowledge seems likely, younger figures like party president Tim Farron are viewed as potential successors.
Seventy-year-old business secretary Cable made the case for his candidacy in an interview with the Financial Times yesterday.
When asked whether he would pursue the leadership if a vacancy arose, he said: "I wouldn't exclude it."
Cable added: "The worship of youth has diminished – perhaps generally – in recent years... perhaps there is a certain respect for people who have had some insight into what's going on."
Cable indicated he would be prepared to work with the Labour party too, underlining his left-wing instincts on "redistribution" and the government "having an active role in the economy".
He praised the current prime minister as being "obviously very bright" but was complimentary towards Miliband too, saying: "He's an able guy and I can't say any more than that really."