Clegg: UK faces ‘Greek-style unrest’

By staff

Britain could experience a wave of Greek-style unrest if Labour or the Tories unleash brutal spending cuts on the back of a slim electoral mandate, Nick Clegg has said.

In an interview with the Observer the Liberal Democrat leader said moves to raise VAT, sack public sector workers and freeze wages could trigger “serious social strife”, especially if forced through by a party with little support in many parts of the country.

He also said a hung parliament could do good for the country, by forcing parties to work together.

“Imagine the Conservatives go home and get an absolute majority, on 25% of the eligible votes,” Mr Clegg said.

“They then turn around in the next week or two and say we’re going to chuck up VAT to 20%, we’re going to start cutting teachers, cutting police and the wage bill in the public sector. I think if you’re not careful in that situation. you’d get Greek-style unrest. And so my warning to people who think the old politics still works, is be careful for what you wish for.

“Suddenly these people will be told by a government that has no legitimacy [in the area] in their eyes that this government is going to slash and burn, having promised them something else.”

On the subject of a hung parliament Mr Clegg said he was not campaigning for it, but that “politicians working together” is a “good thing”.

Current polls continue to point towards a hung parliament, in which Mr Clegg would effectively become king-maker, deciding which of the two main parties he would support.

The Lib Dem leader has faced sustained questions about which party he would support in such an eventuality, but he has insisted he would select the party with the most substantial electoral mandate.

It is unclear whether that refers to seats or the popular vote, however.