Under-fire Clegg insists he won’t quit as Liberal Democrat leader

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 8:19pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 28 May, 2014, 8:36pm

British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has insisted he will not step down as leader of the Liberal Democrat coalition partners despite a terrible performance in the European elections.

Pressure has been building on Clegg since the Lib Dems lost 11 of their 12 European Parliament seats, which followed the party's loss of hundreds of seats in local council elections.

Emerging for his first public appearance since the vote debacle, Clegg said during a low-key visit to a youth club that he wanted to "finish the job" and dismissed calls to dissolve the coalition or modify his party's pro-EU approach.

Voters appear set to inflict more pain on the centrist Lib Dems for their decision to enter a coalition with the centre-right Conservatives after the inconclusive 2010 general election. One new poll showed Clegg could even lose his own seat in next year's election to the centre-left main opposition Labour Party.

Clegg received backing from Conservative Prime Minister David Cameron, with Downing Street making clear he wanted him to remain as his deputy.

While senior Lib Dems have publicly pledged support, a number of his party's lawmakers and activists have warned that Clegg is "toxic" for voters and must go.

Clegg said: "I admit it has been a massive setback for us last week but we were right to stick to our values and right to seek to make that case because no one else was doing it and no one else is doing it in British politics."

One potential successor as party leader, veteran business minister Vince Cable, insisted there was "no leadership issue" and praised Clegg's stance on Europe.