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Pints all round for Clegg and Cable


Vince Cable and Nick Clegg tried to show they were at ease in each other's company

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg tried to show they were at ease in each other's company

Vince Cable and Nick Clegg tried to show they were at ease in each other's company

Nick Clegg and Vince Cable seemingly adopted the successful tactics of Ukip's Nigel Farage today as they drank pints in a pub after their party's election drubbings.

The pair opted for a central London pub as they launched new proposals designed to help pub landlords in their first public appearance together since bitter infighting tore through the Liberal Democrats.

Ukip leader Mr Farage has often been pictured with a pint of beer while on the campaign trail helping his eurosceptic party surge in the polls, most notably with victory in last month's European elections coupled with big gains at councils across England.

Snap opinion polls also suggested Mr Farage comfortably beat pro-European Mr Clegg in two televised debates between the duo ahead of the election.

The Lib Dems' bashing at the ballot box has prompted soul-searching among members and continued questions over Mr Clegg's future as leader, with some suggesting his position as the party's figurehead has had a major impact on their dwindling popularity.

Lord Oakeshott, a close friend of Mr Cable, also resigned from the party after admitting he had commissioned research which indicated the Lib Dems could fare better at next year's general election with a different leader.

Business Secretary Mr Cable was forced to deny he was part of a plot to oust the leader.

And with Mr Clegg and Mr Cable attempting a show of unity i t was almost a case of pints all round - and an apparent nod toward Mr Farage's relaxed beer in a pub approach - in the surroundings of the Queen's Head in Piccadilly.

Deputy Prime Minister Mr Clegg pulled a pint of London Pride beer for Mr Cable and an Archer Mild Ale for himself as the pair talked pubs, policy and chandeliers in the pub.

The senior Lib Dems were greeted by a sizeable press pack as the focus continued to centre on the pair's working relationship.

At one stage, Mr Clegg was leaning on the bar with a pint in his hand while Mr Cable had one hand on his hip and a beer in the other as they tried to use the relaxed surroundings to show they are at ease in each other's company.

As they sat down side-by-side at a table decorated with flowers and with their pints in tow to continue talking with staff, they were treated to camera flashes and television cameras from reporters gathered on the rain-soaked street outside.

Both Mr Clegg and Mr Cable appeared to enjoy around half of their drinks before the media were asked to leave the pub.

As he eyed the menu, Mr Clegg said he would have fancied the slow-roast pork although he was not placing an order.

The Lib Dem leader said L ib Dem MPs will meet tomorrow - the day of the Queen's Speech and the new parliamentary session - as the party attempts to ask the "most searching questions" after the poor election results.

He said: "Vince has been very, very clear - he had absolutely no idea what Matthew Oakeshott was getting up to with his polls.

"All I would say is, setting personalities aside, we had a really bad result last week.

"It's the most normal thing in the world that, after such a bad result, Vince, myself, the whole party - we're having a parliamentary party meeting tomorrow - that we really ask ourselves the most searching questions about what we can do to make sure we get our message across."

Mr Clegg said this included stressing his party's role in developing the economy, pensions, taxes and schools.

Mr Cable told reporters: "We work together, I support his leadership. We're going to move on from some very difficult elections. I'm optimistic we are going to turn this corner."

He added: "I haven't been communicating with Lord Oakeshott recently."

Asked if he had the support of his entire team, Mr Clegg said: "Yes, I think the team is very united.

"I think we've surprised people over and over again, have done in the last four years, but of course we've had a tough time of it.

"Going into coalition cost us a lot of support - the day we did it - and that's understandable because there are some people who don't like the fact that we have reached across political boundaries to do what we think is the right thing for the country."

Asked if the visit was a show of unity, Mr Clegg said: "No. Vince and I have worked together for years as party colleagues, as old friends, and will continue to do so.

"Clearly we've had a really difficult time - just look at the election results - neither Vince nor I are in any way trying to brush that under the carpet."

He added they were "determined to work together, as is the whole team in the Liberal Democrats" to learn the lessons of the election results.