VINCE Cable has been given a humiliating dressing down by the Liberal Democrat leadership after he claimed that his party would be "perfectly happy" to work with the SNP in Government at Westminster.


The Business Secretary, speaking on Tuesday on a visit Edinburgh, had claimed that a 'rainbow coalition' deal between the Liberal Democrats, Labour and the SNP was "certainly possible".

He added that any potential post-General Election talks, with the nationalists potentially holding the balance of power, would be approached in an "open-minded" way.

However, it is understood that his claims, which clashed with the position adopted by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg - who had all but ruled out a deal with the Nationalists just weeks previously -  sparked anger among the party hierarchy.

Scottish Liberal Democrat Leader Willie Rennie said that the party's position had been "made clear" to Mr Cable, and branded the London MP's remarks "not helpful and wrong".

Mr Rennie added: "It's not going to happen. Just as we wouldn't put UKIP in charge of Europe, we wouldn't put the SNP in charge of Britain. We work with the SNP at a local level, and we work with them at Holyrood. But you can't put a party that just had a referendum to break up Britain in charge of the UK. He was wrong to say that. The party line is clear, we are ruling it out.

"You can just imagine Alex Salmond being Deputy Prime Minister, then getting his screwdriver out and taking apart the UK."

Mr Rennie refused to reveal who had spoken to the former Liberal Democrat deputy leader, but said that Mr Cable was now "clear" about his party's position.

Mr Cable, when making his candid remarks to journalists, had dismissed the suggestion that Britain would not survive the SNP propping up a UK party at Westminster, saying: "The union is remarkably robust. We've seen with the referendum that people voted to continue it and let's not forget that."

YouGov founder and polling expert Peter Kellner has said that Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the SNP would have the best chance of forming a working administration in May. Neither Labour or the Conservatives are likely to win an overall majority at the General Election on current evidence, while Liberal Democrat support has collapsed compared to 2010 levels and backing for the SNP has surged.