Belfast Telegraph

Monday 21 April 2014

Nick Clegg defends coalition at meeting

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg mounted a passionate defence of the coalition Government as he took questions from the public

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg mounted a passionate defence of the coalition Government as he took questions from the public.

Mr Clegg spent an hour answering questions from an audience of around 200 people at a meeting in Sheffield.

Pressed by one young woman on the decision to allow Lib Dem MPs to abstain on the issue of university tuition fees, Mr Clegg launched into a robust defence of the coalition agreement drawn up by the Tories and his party.

He said he was "not going to apologise" for the compromises which have had to be made to put the agreement together.

Mr Clegg listed the achievements he believes the Government has notched up in little more than a week, and told the questioner: "I think the coalition agreement is something that offers you real hope. I think what we've done since then is exciting and right.

"I think it is new, I think it is different, I think it's dramatic and I think it's a source of great optimism for this country."

Mr Clegg, who is MP for Sheffield Hallam, told the audience at King Edward VII School he had wanted to return to Sheffield for the first of his regular public meetings since the General Election.

He took more than a dozen questions on diverse topics including Britain's relationship with the United States, the DNA database, elected mayors and foreign ownership of football clubs.

The new Deputy Prime Minister only looked slightly bemused when one man asked him "where he stood on the creation of synthetic life" following yesterday's dramatic science news from the United States.

Mr Clegg joked: "I'm just a politician, I'm not a walking encyclopaedia," before adding: "Do I recoil in horror?... No I don't."

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