Cable says the Coalition could break up before the next general election so parties can compete with each other

Vince Cable has raised the prospect of the coalition breaking-up before the next general election as the Liberal Democrats and Conservatives try to create their own identities for the electorate.

The Lib Dem Business Secretary said the governing parties would need time to 'establish their own separate platforms and identity' before they went to the country again in 2015.

His comments about 'disengagement' raise crucial questions about the nature of the Government towards the end of the current parliament.

Cabinet minister Vince Cable has considered the prospect of a break-up of the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition in the House of Commons before the next general election

Cabinet minister Vince Cable has considered the prospect of a break-up of the ruling Conservative-Liberal Democrat Coalition in the House of Commons before the next general election

The coalition has legislated for fixed-term five-year parliaments, with the next general election due in May 2015.

Asked whether the Lib Dems would break away 'just short of the election to give itself a bit more space to establish an independent platform', Dr Cable told BBC Radio Five Live.

He added: 'Everybody involved knows that before the next general election, the two parties will have to establish their own separate platforms and identity.

'But how that disengagement takes place, over what time period, is very much an issue for the future, certainly not something we're talking about at the moment.'

The Lib Dems would be 'competing as a separate party with a separate manifesto and I am sure the Tories think exactly the same way', he said.

The relationship between Tory leader David Cameron (left) and Lib Dem's Nick Clegg has come under increasing scrutiny

The relationship between Tory leader David Cameron (left) and Lib Dem's Nick Clegg has come under increasing scrutiny

Dr Cable notoriously told undercover reporters in 2010 that he had the 'nuclear option' available to him of bringing down the coalition by quitting the Cabinet.

But he told Five Live that he was now 'committed to staying the course', adding: 'I was speaking off the cuff and in rather an emotional context.

'I wasn't giving a cool analysis of political situation.

'My position is I am working very effectively with my colleagues in the coalition.

'We have got a massive, massive economic problem to deal with - partly problems we have inherited of a collapsed financial system and partly a difficult international environment.'

Asked whether David Cameron agreed with Dr Cable's assessment that the coalition parties may have to disengage ahead of the 2015 election, a Downing Street spokeswoman said: 'The key word in that statement is 'may'.'

The spokeswoman told a regular media briefing in Westminster: 'He was speculating to a hypothetical question.

'Clearly, we have a coalition Government with a challenging programme which it is focused on delivering.'

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