THE Liberal Democrats have backtracked after Alistair Carmichael refused to rule out a possible coalition with the Tories in the aftermath of the next General Election.

The LibDem home affairs spokesperson was speaking on Times Radio as he discussed potential LibDem strategy if either Labour or the Tories fail to win a majority in the next election.

Carmichael was repeatedly pressed by the interviewer on whether the best way for LibDems to influence government policy was to repeat the move made by Nick Clegg in 2010 and get into bed with a Tory government.

And the MP for Shetland and Orkney initially responded by saying that at present this was not a “realistic prospect”.

However, he went on to caveat that by saying that if the Tories were to ditch Boris Johnson as their leader then there would be a “different political landscape”

He said: “If, however, the Conservative MPs do the sensible, decent and honourable thing and get rid of him, we could be presented with a very different political landscape.”

Carmichael also said that the “clear priority” of the voters in the Tiverton and Honiton by-election was to get rid of Boris Johnson and that this could be the same in the next General Election as well.

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Since this interview, the LibDems have told interviewer Lucy Fisher Carmichael’s comments were “taken out of context” and added LibDem Westminster leader Ed Davey has “made it absolutely clear the Lib Dems will not go into coalition with the Conservatives”. 

SNP MSP Rona Mackay said: “No one should be in any doubt that this is classic LibDem duplicity – and this horrendous gaffe from Alistair Carmichael has exposed it for all to see.

“They were partners in crime when the Tories inflicted a decade of crippling austerity on the people of this country.

“And we saw at last month’s Scottish council elections their Tory-lite leader brazenly hawk his ambition to strike dodgy town hall deals with the Tories.

“Let’s not forget, they also now support the catastrophic Tory Brexit which is at the heart of the current cost of living crisis. And they continue to prioritise Westminster control of Scotland above the needs of people so badly served by that Westminster control."

A LibDem Spokesperson said: "Alistair's comments have been taken completely out of context.

"Ed Davey has made it absolutely clear the Lib Dems will not go into coalition with the Conservatives.

"Ed and the party are absolutely focused on getting rid of Boris Johnson's Conservatives who have no plan to help people with the cost of living crisis."