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Osborne and Clegg both insist Coalition will last and won't deviate from deficit plan

By Tim Montgomerie

OsborneOnMARR

George Osborne was on the front page of today's Independent on Sunday. Apparently Liberal Democrats don't think he is friendly enough to the idea of Coalition government. They are worried that he's too focused on the goal of a Tory majority in 2015 [Editor: Good] and they also blame him for the high energy No2AV campaign. My understanding is that the Chancellor was crucial to the Tory decision to throw the kitchen sink at the campaign. This is what I write in my review of the AV campaign:

"Cameron walked into George Osborne’s office to tell him that he’d just been told that he’d lose the leadership if AV passed. Cameron thought it funny that MPs could be so melodramatic. Osborne’s face didn’t move. We can’t rule it out, he said, staring at Cameron in a moment where the gravity of the situation dawned on the Prime Minister."

Read the full review.

On the Marr show this morning the Chancellor was very clear that he was pro-Coalition. It is a Coalition, not a marriage, he insisted but "this is a five year parliament and a five year Coalition Agreement". He denied that he was the source of the revelation that Chris Huhne attacked him in Cabinet. "I happen to believe in the secrecy of what happens in Cabinet," he told Andrew Marr. Osborne is actually in something of an unlikely alliance with Nick Clegg on the NHS. Osborne is worried that the health reforms might be unpopular and will jeopardise re-election. Clegg wants to appease Shirley Williams and the other Liberal Democrat critics of Andrew Lansley's plan.

The Chancellor said that the local election results had been the best result for a new government for thirty years. Using CCHQ figures he said the Tories got more votes than Labour. He paid tribute to the No campaign and described it as "brilliant". The Yes campaign never really got going, he said, and never made a compelling case for change. The campaign itself, however, cannot be held responsible for the British people's decision. The landslide defeat of AV was so emphatic, he said, that no tactics were decisive.

The Chancellor insisted that there would be no deviation from the deficit reduction strategy. Britain has "German interest rates despite a Portuguese deficit" because of the tough measures that the Coalition has taken. Interviewed earlier on Marr, Nick Clegg signalled that in Phase II of the Coalition there would be more differentiation between him and the Conservatives but there would be no deviation from eradicating the deficit by 2015. In a great line the Deputy Prime Minister said:

"There is nothing progressive about borrowing £400m a day."

Amen.

The Lib Dem leader also insisted he would never join the Conservative Party. I'm not a Conservative he said and never will be. I will be a card-carrying Liberal Democrat when I'm carried away in a coffin.

James-corden-pic-pa-826409980 PS A big boost to the Chancellor's street cred came from James Corden of Gavin and Stacey fame. Also on Marr, Corden said that out of Ed Miliband, Nick Clegg and George Osborne, the Chancellor was "the funniest." "He's got funny bones." Anyone who knows Osborne will agree. Sometimes seen as cold in public he is hilarious company and famously wrote many of the jokes that William Hague used as Tory leader.

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