BUSINESS secretary Vince Cable has poured cold water on rumours that he is vying for Nick Clegg’s position as leader of the Liberal Democrats, disowning his close friend and political ally Lord Oakeshott in the process.
In a statement yesterday Cable, who is currently on a government trade mission in China, said a poll commissioned by fellow Lib Dem Lord Oakeshott showing the party trailing in four key seats was “totally inexcusable and unacceptable”, adding: “I have made it very clear repeatedly that he [Oakeshott] does not speak or act for me.”
The poll focused on Nick Clegg’s Sheffield Hallam seat, showing he could lose it in the general election next year and in turn adding weight to the argument that Clegg should step down as leader.
Cable’s timely rebuttal came as talk within the wider party grew louder yesterday that the business secretary was readying himself to stage a coup against Clegg, after the Liberal Democrats lost all but one MEP in the European elections.
But while deputy prime minister Clegg admitted the EU result was “damaging”, he dismissed claims he should stand aside, warning that “turning inwards” would be a backwards step for the party.