UK faces cold 2013 as Olympic glow fades: media
By Stephen Addison, ReutersLONDON--British Prime Minister David Cameron's “odd-couple” coalition government will come under increased strain in 2013, newspapers predicted, with the divisive issue of Europe aggravating tensions between them as the feel-good factor of the Olympic Games and the Queen's Diamond Jubilee fades.
January 1, 2013, 12:59 am TWN
Two key moments will be Cameron's long-awaited speech on Britain's relations with the European Union, expected in the next few weeks, and local government elections in May which could prompt a revolt against Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.
Also expected to weigh on coalition sentiment in 2013 will be the improved standing of Labour opposition leader Ed Miliband and the rise of the anti-EU UK Independence Party (UKIP).
“It has always been tricky for Cameron and Clegg to present themselves as united,” said The Observer. “This tension will become more acute in the 12 months ahead.”
Unable to win an outright victory in the 2010 general election, Cameron's center-right Conservatives persuaded the much smaller, left-leaning Liberal Democrats to join them in coalition to help solve Britain's economic problems.
The unequal electoral strength of the two parties and the ideological gulf between them have long encouraged Britain's newspapers to speculate whether they will be able to last together until the next election in 2015.
Nowhere is the divide more marked than over Europe, with the Conservatives increasingly divided on the EU as the eurozone's economic problems have worsened and the LibDems staunch in their support for Britain's EU membership.
“The coalition has proved far stronger than many wiseacres had assumed and the two parties have agreed to differ in ways in which some had thought impossible — but Europe may prove a bridge too far,” said the Sunday Times.
The Sunday Telegraph warned: “The center of gravity in the Conservative Party is shifting unambiguously towards a much steelier collective position on Europe.
“The question in 2013 is whether Cameron can keep pace with his party on Europe ... and still hold together his governing partnership with the most Europhile party in the UK.”