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The latest stage of Huhne's leadership bid involves clash with Osborne in Cabinet

By Tim Montgomerie

A senior Tory minister recently told me that he reads James Forsyth to know what is really happening in government.

Over at Coffee House James - The Spectator's Political Editor - is living up to this reputation with a report that Chris Huhne and the Chancellor clashed during a meeting of the Cabinet:

"Chris Huhne directly challenged David Cameron and George Osborne about the claims that the No campaign have been making. He asked them both in turn, if they were going to — or could — defend them. Osborne responded by telling Huhne that his behaviour was inappropriate and that Cabinet wasn’t the place for such disputes."

It must be a real possibility that the Energy Secretary will walk out of the Coalition soon after polling has ended on Thursday. His attacks on the Conservatives have been so hard-hitting and so frequent (here, here and here in the last three days) that it's going to be difficult for there to be trust between him and colleagues in government.

Huhne still wants to be Lib Dem leader and he has watched Tim Farron emerge as the likeliest successor to Nick Clegg by staying outside of the Coalition tent. By leaving the government the speculation is that Mr Huhne will reassert his credentials as a man of his party's Left (although he is economically very dry). If he pursues this course he won't actively undermine the Coalition but will build a reputation as the guardian of "true Liberalism" and seek to replace Clegg in the second half of the parliament.


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