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Ashdown warns Lib Dems 'stop it now' after plot

Former Lib Dem leader Lord Ashdown warned the party to "stop it now" after a "plot of deep malice" to remove Nick Clegg was revealed.

Lord Ashdown told the BBC's Andrew Marr Show, "Anything you do now which is not getting out on the street, campaigning in the context of the next General Election ... is distraction and a dangerous distraction."

Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown on The Andrew Marr Show.
Former Lib Dem leader Paddy Ashdown on The Andrew Marr Show. Credit: BBC/The Andrew Marr Show

He said the Lib Dems have to "get out and start campaigning for the next election" following disappointing results at the local and European elections.

Read: Clegg insists Cable was 'not aware' of Oakeshott poll

Poll claims Ukip will win 22 European Parliament seats

A poll has predicted Ukip and Labour will each win 22 seats in the European Parliament election.

The YouGov/The Sun poll suggests that, compared to the last election, the following will happen:

  • Ukip: 22 (+9)
  • Labour: 22 (+9)
  • Conservatives: 16 (-10)
  • Green Party: 4 (+2)
  • Lib Dems: 3 (-8)

According to the poll of 6,000 voters, both Ukip and Labour would send 22 MEPs to Brussels, while the Tories would secure 16 seats.

The Lib Dems, who currently hold 11 seats in the European Parliament, are expected to send only three MEPs, while the Green Party look set for four.

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Poll relegates Tories to third for first time in history

Ukip is set to win the European election on Thursday, narrowly beating Labour, according to the latest YouGov/The Sun poll.

Prime Minister David Cameron speaks to party activists during a rally in Ealing Credit: Stefan Rousseau/PA Wire

The projection sees the Conservative Party relegated to the third place for the first time in the political history.

The survey predicts the Liberal Democrats will finish fifth, behind the Green Party.

Alexander rubbishes Labour-Lib Dem coalition claims

Suggestions that Labour could enter a coalition with the Liberal Democrats after next year's General Election have been dismissed as "nonsense" by the man in charge of Labour's election strategy.

Douglas Alexander told the Scottish Labour conference that his party should hold the Lib Dems to account for their role in implementing policies such as welfare reform and a rise in tuition fees.

Douglas Alexander is the chair of Labour's General Election strategy.
Douglas Alexander is the chair of Labour's General Election strategy. Credit: Yui Mok/PA Wire/Press Association Images

Alexander insisted that next year's election was "quintessentially winnable" for Labour.

"The Liberal Democrats want to pretend that they are the internal opposition to the Conservatives - they're not the internal opposition, they are the enablers of the Conservatives," he said.

"The reason David Cameron is sitting in Downing Street is because Nick Clegg is sitting next to him at the Cabinet table."

Cable: EU referendum 'damaging UK investment'

David Cameron's commitment to an in/out referendum on Europe is causing uncertainty and damaging investment in the UK, Business Secretary Vince Cable will warn today.

He will say that firms will "look elsewhere" to invest if access to the lucrative European market is jeopardised.

File photo of Business Secretary Vince Cable.
Business Secretary Vince Cable will make a speech later today. Credit: Joe Giddens/PA Wire

As Liberal Democrats gather for their spring conference in York, Mr Cable will also warn that Eurosceptics are putting the union with Scotland at risk by indulging in nationalist rhetoric.

He is expected to say, "How on Earth do you expect to persuade the Scots to ignore the siren voices of nationalism and separatism when you indulge in British nationalism and Euro-separatism?"

Portsmouth City Council statement on Mike Hancock

We understand that councillor Mike Hancock has resigned from the cabinet of Portsmouth City Council. The Liberal Democrat group will be selecting a successor for the planning, regeneration and economic development portfolio.

Mike Hancock continues to be a Portsmouth City Council councillor.

– David Williams, chief executive of Portsmouth City Council

Read: Hancock quits Portsmouth City Council ruling cabinet

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Hancock quits Portsmouth City Council ruling cabinet

MP Mike Hancock has stepped down from the ruling cabinet of Portsmouth City Council.

He was suspended from the Liberal Democrat party last month after the leak of a report into allegations of sexual impropriety. He has denied the claims.

Mr Hancock was suspended from the Liberal Democrat party last month Credit: Press Association

Mr Hancock resigned the parliamentary party whip last year, but was still sitting as a Lib Dem councillor until the local group ruled that his suspension meant it must strip him of the party banner.

The announcement of his resignation came hours before a meeting at which local Lib Dems were expected to decide whether Mr Hancock could retain his responsibility for regeneration and economic development while sitting as an independent councillor.

Read: Portsmouth City Council statement on Mike Hancock

Read: Hancock's 'victim' recorded call to Clegg's office in 2011

Portsmouth Council: Hancock to stay on Council Cabinet

Following a private meeting this evening, Portsmouth City Council's Liberal Democrat group has said Mike Hancock will retain his seat on the council's cabinet.

He has been forced to stand as an independent councillor as he was suspended as a member of the party yesterday over claims of sexual misconduct, which he denies.

Explaining their decision, the group said: "This was decided because Councillor Hancock is best placed to fulfil the role of cabinet member for planning, regeneration and economic development."

As well as being a local councillor, Mr Hancock is also an MP for Portsmouth South.

Hancock's 'victim' recorded call to Clegg's office in 2011

ITV News has obtained a recording of the call a woman made to Nick Clegg's office in June 2011 following up on a letter she says she wrote three months earlier detailing allegations of sexual misconduct against the then Lib Dem MP Mike Hancock. He denies the claims against him.

In the call, she is heard saying: "I wrote to Nick Clegg back in March [2011] and again in May and I still haven't had a courtesy letter."

Mr Clegg said today he "acted immediately" last year when he was told legal proceedings were being taken against Mr Hancock, who has been accused of sexual misconduct. He withdrew the party whip.

Watch: Clegg 'acted immediately' when told of Hancock claims

But the woman's solicitor told ITV News the party was made aware two years earlier, but nothing was done.

In March 2011, the alleged victim says she wrote a letter sent by recorded delivery to the Lib Dem leader's office. The party say they did not receive it.

Watch: Hancock refuses to answer questions over his future

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