Clegg confident he can avoid Lib Dem revolt

NICK Clegg is convinced all his MPs will end up voting for the coalition Budget, despite fears that some in the Lib Dem party will balk at benefit cuts and a thumping hike in VAT.

An aide to the deputy Prime Minister said the leadership was confident it could win round the doubters – including renegade MP Bob Russell, who has repeatedly threatened to vote against the Budget.

“Bob is obviously concerned, and that’s understandable. But he is listening to our reasoning and we think he will end up backing us,” the aide said.

The Budget has won the support of left winger and recently-installed deputy Lib Dem leader Simon Hughes, who yesterday said the measures “can be sold” to the parliamentary party.

“Of course there’s unease. Because none of us – not one single party – wanted to put up VAT. But that has become a choice that was inevitable. Anything that reduces benefits for the vulnerable, or might reduce them, is difficult,” Hughes said.

Meanwhile, business secretary Vince Cable yesterday insisted the Budget reflected Lib Dem concerns. “The key elements that we fought for are in it,” he told MPs in the commons.