UK & World News

  • 29 May 2014, 13:37

Clegg Says Cable Not Behind Leadership Plot

Nick Clegg has said there are no "plots and conspiracies" to oust him and that he and Vince Cable continue to work together.

The Liberal Democrat leader said he had spoken to Dr Cable, who is in China on a trip as Business Secretary, and did not believe "for a second" he was behind the leak of a damaging poll.

He said there was no question of him sacking Dr Cable, in the wake of the botched coup by the Liberal Democrat peer Lord Oakeshott to trigger a leadership contest.

Speaking on his LBC radio show Call Clegg, he said: "He was absolutely not aware of polls elsewhere. He has made it very, very clear that he, for instance, didn't want any questions about leadership in the poll which he did have some control over in his own constituency.

"So, look I fully expect that people will try and suggest that there are endless plots and conspiracies. I don't believe that for a second. Vince is an outstanding Secretary of State for Business. He and I have worked together for years and years and years and we are going to continue to work together in harness as part of a really strong Lib Dem team in government. Full stop."

Mr Clegg also insisted that he had not been crying before he appeared with red-rimmed eyes in an interview on Monday but that he had been tired from campaigning.

He said he remained "absolutely gutted" by the party's performance in the local and European elections.

Meanwhile DrCable has reiterated his support for Mr Clegg and again condemned the anti-Clegg poll commissioned by his close friend Lord Oakeshott.

He knew nothing of the poll in Mr Clegg's Sheffield Hallam constituency until he read about it in the newspapers, he told the BBC, and said "there was no disloyalty".

Dr Cable said: "People are putting round the story that there is some division on that. There is not. I made it absolutely clear from the beginning of this week that there is absolutely no leadership issue."

He has, however, admitted knowing about the other polls authorised by Lord Oakeshott, which showed key Lib Dems could lose seats in the 2015 vote.

David Cameron has backed Dr Cable saying he judged him solely on his performance as Business Secretary, a role he was performing well.

Lord Oakeshott resigned on Wednesday after the beleaguered Lib Dem leader threatened him with the sack for commissioning and leaking an ICM poll, which showed Mr Clegg could lose hisseat at the next election.

In his resignation statement, Lord Oakeshott, who had leaked the research anonymously, said he had informed Dr Cable of the results of the poll several weeks ago.

The disclosure sparked significant questions for Dr Cable, who came out to condemn Lord Oakeshott's actions on Tuesday after speculation he was behind the attempted coup.

The Lib Dem peer also said the party was heading for "disaster" under Mr Clegg's leadership. He refused to comment any further on the matter or what Dr Cable knew when questioned on Thursday morning.

Pressure on Mr Clegg to step down continues to intensify, with increasing calls for him to put his leadership to the vote in a contest after dismal local and European election results.

The Social Liberal Forum, which represents left-leaning Lib Dems, has written a letter to The Times, calling for a leadership "that people can listen to".

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