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Cameron might keep Clegg as Deputy Prime Minister if the Lib Dems ousted him as leader

By Tim Montgomerie

Clegg-and-Cameron-in-Cockpi

Screengrab from BBC1's Politics Show

Fascinating titbit from James Forsyth's column in The Spectator (not yet online):

"In No. 10, they have had discussions about what they would do if Clegg were deposed by his own party. One option under consideration would be simply to keep him on as Deputy Prime Minister: there is, they claim, no constitutional requirement that the leader of the minority coalition party should be offered that job title. But such a course of action would surely bring the government’s problems to boiling point."

In my December 2010 rescue plan for the Liberal Democrats I argued that Clegg had to go before the next election but thought he would choose to go:

""Liar Clegg" thing is now stuck in the public imagination. He'll be a huge handicap for his party if he is the leader at the next election but he should stay until 2014 (partly because he can hope things will change) but also because, to change leader now, would mean his successor will get the blame for the many difficult decisions to come. A gracious resignation speech as party leader, twelve or so months before the next election, will revive his own reputation somewhat (resignation speeches always do) but allow his party to choose a leader who isn't connected in the public mind with broken promises and a close relationship with the Conservatives. He could stay as Deputy PM until polling day, again allowing his successor some distance from the government. Five years as Deputy PM is a pretty fine thing for the CV."

I still think this is the likeliest scenario although the issue might be forced before year four.

If Clegg was successfully challenged, however, and Cameron asked Clegg to stay as his Deputy and Clegg agreed it might be huge for the Liberal Democrats. We might then have a Laws/ Browne/ Alexander/ Lamb group and a Cable/ Huhne/ Farron party. Interesting times as they say and too hard to predict.

PS There is also the small matter of a vacancy for EU Commissioner in 2014...

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