UK & World News
Cable's Early Coalition Split Talk Dismissed
Vince Cable's suggestion the coalition could fall apart before the 2015 election has been dismissed by another senior Lib Dem.
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander told Sky News the partnership would continue until the end of this Parliament as planned.
He insisted the Lib Dems would not pull out "months or years" early because there was still so much work to do on the economy.
After a day spent attacking the Tories and creating internal party tensions over the economy, Mr Cable said on Monday night a split before 2015 could happen.
Asked about an early separation at a fringe event at the Lib Dem conference, he said: "It's certainly possible. We are not at the stage of talking about that process.
"It is obviously a very sensitive one. It has got to be led by the leader. We have not yet had those conversations."
The Business Secretary added on BBC's Newsnight later that the position would be "collectively decided" closer to the election and "all kinds of things are possible".
He also refused to apologise for "ruffling a few feathers" by attacking George Osborne's economic policies and accusing the Tories of adopting the "ugly" politics of fear.
Mr Alexander played down the remarks as he appeared on Sky News ahead of a key speech on the economy in Glasgow later on Tuesday.
He said: "This coalition will continue until the end of this Parliament as we promised for the very simple reason that we have a very big job to do - to clean up the economic mess that Labour left behind and entrench the recovery we are starting to see.
"Vince was asked at a fringe meeting to speculate on a range of options. What I'm saying is that we have always made clear our firm intention is to make sure this coalition continues until the end.
"We are not going to walk away from that job months or years before the end of the coalition government. We have big Lib Dem commitments to deliver ..."
Mr Cable has also called for caution over the economic recovery, in contrast to Mr Alexander who will tell activists later that the "darkest hour" is over.
Embracing David Cameron's characterisation of him as a Jeremiah figure, he said "one quarter in a long, evolving crisis" was not enough and the recovery had to be "embedded".
In his key speech, Mr Alexander will urge Lib Dems to "shout from the rooftops" about the coalition's economic success and stress the party's involvement.
"We've seen the economy through its darkest hour by ensuring that the coalition's economic plan is pragmatic," he is due to say.
"Anyone who says the better economic news is all to the credit of the Conservatives is wrong.
"The decisions we have implemented in Government, the brighter future that lies ahead is only there because of us."
He will also warn austerity will have to continue beyond 2015 and pledge that the Lib Dems will make "taxes on the very wealthy" a key priority to help balance the books.
On Sky News before the address, he repeatedly refused to outline what the party considers wealthy after a leaked briefing note suggested those earning more than £50,000 would be hit.
A memo for MPs, mistakenly sent to the press on Monday, included plans to make people above that threshold contribute more.
The party had to backtrack after the blunder, admitting the idea had been taken from notes made on an interview Nick Clegg gave in 2012 but was never Government policy.