'Plan V': Secret plot to make Cable the Chancellor in a Lib-Lab coalition

Plan V: Any aspirations Vince Cable has of one day becoming Chancellor could come to fruition in a mooted coalition with the Labour Party

Plan V: Any aspirations Vince Cable has of one day becoming Chancellor could come to fruition in a mooted coalition with the Labour Party

Vince Cable would be made Chancellor in a Lib-Lab government under explosive plans being discussed by senior Liberal Democrat and Labour politicians.

The secret proposal – nicknamed ‘Plan V’ (for Vince) by Westminster insiders – will enrage both Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg and Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls, who wants to run the Treasury.

The revelations will also further destabilise Mr Clegg’s increasingly precarious position as Lib Dem leader ahead of a crunch party conference, which begins today in Brighton.

Business Secretary Mr Cable has already said that he thinks he would make a ‘quite good’ Chancellor and has refused to rule out running for the Lib Dem leadership – leading to speculation that he might challenge Mr Clegg before the 2015 election.

Earlier this month it was revealed that he has been in regular text and telephone contact with Labour leader Ed Miliband.

But under the proposal, allies of Mr Cable say he could become Chancellor even if he does not oust Mr Clegg.

A Labour frontbencher has told the Mail that he believes Mr Miliband would be prepared to negotiate a coalition deal directly with the Business Secretary after the next general election – cutting Mr Clegg out of the process altogether.

Another Labour source said Mr Miliband might find it attractive to replace Mr Balls, who is seen as his main rival in the party.

Enraged: Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg is likely to be angry about claims there are plans to join forces with the Labour Party
Plans: According to a Labour frontbencher Ed Miliband would be prepared to cut Clegg out the process altogether

The plot thickens: Under the suggested plans Nick Clegg (left) could be left out of Ed Milibands plans altogether

Labour aides believe the party will struggle to win an overall majority in 2015 but would be able to govern with Lib Dem support.

The suggestion that Mr Cable might bypass Mr Clegg could split the Lib Dems, with the SDP wing joining Labour in coalition while Mr Clegg’s Liberal wing breaks away.

Sources say Mr Cable and Mr Miliband have not discussed any concrete plans for a future coalition. But they have both indicated a willingness to keep open lines of communication.

Now the Mail has established that the possibility of Mr Cable taking the Treasury has been discussed in private by both Lib Dem and Labour politicians at the highest levels.

Nick Clegg will tell his leadership rivals to back off

One Lib Dem said: ‘Vince is the obvious person to be Chancellor. Some say that he would need to oust Nick and become leader. But he would not have to be leader. Miliband could negotiate with him directly.’

But the prospect of any deal with the Lib Dems was attacked yesterday by Labour deputy leader Harriet Harman, who said they are as bad as the Tories, as they have been ‘accomplices’ in the Coalition.

A spokesman for Mr Miliband said he shares Miss Harman’s views. ‘That’s the official position,’ he said.

Mr Cable’s spokesman said: ‘Vince oversees a complex department in Whitehall and he is getting on with his job. He is 100 per cent focused and committed to the Coalition.’