Leaders unveil details of coalition
10:28pm Wednesday 19th May 2010
David Cameron and Nick Clegg will unveil the full details of their historic coalition deal, insisting they have found enough common ground to stay in power for five years.
The Prime Minister and his deputy are to launch the final document setting out their administration's programme at an event in Westminster. The agreement is around ten times as long as the four-page version produced during protracted negotiations in the wake of the inconclusive General Election.
Aides signalled that joint approaches have been hammered out in areas that were not originally part of the deal. However, the policy detail is bound to fuel concerns among the rank-and-file in both parties over the direction their leaders are taking them.
Mr Cameron came under fire from his own MPs over efforts to gain more control over the key 1922 Committee, which has previously been the focal point for backbench unrest, and some Liberal Democrats have been privately expressing concerns that the coalition could eventually result in their party being absorbed by the Conservatives.
In a joint foreword to the full agreement, Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg write: "As our parties have worked together it has become increasingly clear to us that, though there are differences, there is also common ground. We share a conviction that the days of big government are over; that centralisation and top-down control have proved a failure.
"We believe the time has come to disperse power more widely in Britain today; to recognise that we will only make progress if we help people to come together to make life better."
They also stress that the "most urgent task facing this coalition is to tackle our record debts, because without sound finances, none of our ambitions will be deliverable".
They added: "Difficult decisions will have to be taken in the months and years ahead; but we will ensure fairness is at the heart of those decisions so that all those most in need are protected. Working together, we are confident that we can take the country through difficult times to better days ahead."
The leaders add: "We both want a Britain where social mobility is unlocked; where everyone, regardless of background, has the chance to rise as high as their talents and ambition allows them."
The contents list for the document covers a range of topics, including areas such as Europe and families where the Tories and Lib Dems previously had significant differences. Downing Street aides highlighted sections on jobs and welfare, and on schools as places where "substantial" common ground had been achieved.