Nick Clegg aims fire at Ukip in conference address

Nick Clegg has attacked Nigel Farage for his "politics of blame" as the Liberal Democrats look set for a battle for third place in May's elections.

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Nick Clegg to stay Lib Dem leader 'until at least 2020'

Nick Clegg delivers a speech to his party's spring conference in York today. Credit: PA

Nick Clegg intends to remain as Liberal Democrat leader until at least 2020 - whether or not the party is in power - his office said today as speculation about the Deputy Prime Minister's future overshadowed his spring conference speech.

The Deputy Prime Minister was forced to respond to speculation about his future following reports that senior MPs were positioning themselves as possible successors.

"Nick Clegg intends to be the leader of the Liberal Democrats today, tomorrow, into the 2015 election and through the whole of the next parliament," a spokesman said.

"He intends to be leader of the Liberal Democrats whether or not we are in government."

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Clegg: Lib Dems 'guardians of tolerant Britain'

Nick Clegg during his closing address to the Liberal Democrats' spring conference Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment

The Liberal Democrats are the only guardians of a "modern, open and tolerant Britain", leader Nick Clegg has said to the party's spring conference.

Mr Clegg defended his party's role in the coalition government, and said the party must remain in power after next year's general election to ensure the "reconstruction and renewal" of the country.

The deputy prime minister added that, though many "still feel the squeeze" of the recent economic downturn, British people can "finally see the light at the end of the tunnel".

Clegg: 'pulling up drawbridge would wreck economy'

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg MP answers questions from the crowd at a Q&A session during the Liberal Democrat Spring Conference in York. Credit: Tim Goode/EMPICS Entertainment

Nick Clegg will start the build up to his European election debate showdown with Ukip leader Nigel Farage by promising to take on "backwards-looking politics and making the case for EU membership.

Speaking at the Liberal Democrat party conference in York later today, the Deputy Prime Minister will acknowledge the EU needs reform, but in a swipe at his Tory coalition colleagues will stress that the UK cannot demand changes with "one foot out of the door".

He will warn that "pulling up the drawbridge" would wreck the economy, make it harder to catch international criminals and hamper efforts to tackle climate change.

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Lib Dems pledge £100 income tax cut

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander gives his speech to the Liberal Democrats' spring conference in York Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

The Liberal Democrats will make raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,500 a key demand in any coalition negotiations after the 2015 general election.

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander confirmed in a speech to the party's spring conference that increasing the threshold will be written into the party's manifesto for the contest.

A rise of at least £500 - giving a tax cut of £100 - would be earmarked for the first Budget after the election, he said.

The Lib Dems have made raising the point at which people start paying income tax to £10,000 a priority in Government and Mr Alexander indicated pressure was mounting for George Osborne to signal a further rise to £10,500 in this month's Budget.

Lib Dems to 'raise tax allowance'

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg is greeted by party supporters as he arrives for his party's Spring Conference. Credit: Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

Raising the personal income tax allowance to £12,500 will be a key Liberal Democrat demand in any coalition talks after the 2015 election, the senior minister who will lead the party's negotiating team will say today.

Treasury Chief Secretary Danny Alexander will confirm that increasing the threshold will be written into the party's manifesto for the contest, and a rise of at least £500 - giving a tax cut of £100 - would be earmarked for the first Budget or Autumn Statement after the election.

The Lib Dems have made raising the point at which people start paying income tax to £10,000 a priority in Government, and Mr Alexander indicated pressure was mounting for George Osborne to signal a further rise to £10,500 in this month's Budget.

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