Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Clegg 'nothing but proud' of Cable

Lib Dems leader Nick Clegg has played down talk of a rift between him and Vince Cable

Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has played down talk of a rift between him and his high-profile Treasury spokesman Vince Cable.

As the two men appeared alongside each other at their first press conference of the election campaign, Mr Clegg said he was "nothing other than proud" of Mr Cable.

He said: "Vince and I have always worked, and continue to work, as an extremely good and effective team together."

Last week, Mr Cable, the party's deputy leader, described the behaviour of business leaders who supported the Tories' plans for a National Insurance cut as "nauseating".

This led to Mr Clegg being repeatedly pressed on whether he would use the same language and, although he did not repeat the term "nauseating", he said he would use "exactly the same words" as Mr Cable.

Mr Cable has also admitted the party's poster warning of a Tory VAT "bombshell" was based on "conjecture". He appeared to indicate he was uneasy with the poster's negative approach, saying: "I would prefer to be talking positively about the things we would do in tax policy in respect to public spending."

Rumours of difficulties between the two men led to a suggestion at the Lib Dems' first election press conference that Mr Clegg should buy his deputy an ice cream - a reference to the incident on the 2005 campaign when Tony Blair and Gordon Brown attempted to put on a united front.

Mr Clegg joked that it would be a "joy" to share an ice cream with Mr Cable.

He added: "I am immensely proud, not only as a friend of Vince but as a colleague, that Vince has emerged as the most-trusted spokesperson on the biggest issue of the day.

"It's a bit like asking the captain of a cricket team whether they mind that they have got the best batsman."

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