Cameron defends Clegg from ‘sell-out’ claims

By Ian Dunt

David Cameron has defended Nick Clegg from claims he ‘sold out’ when he entered into a coalition with the Conservatives.

The prime minister made the comments after a week which saw intense hostility towards the Lib Dems in the Commons and several opinion polls showing the party was losing support.

“This is not a Conservative government with a sort of Liberal Democrat appendage. This is a partnership government,” Mr Cameron told Yorkshire’s Real Radio.

Mr Cameron was keen that those who voted Lib Dem in May knew they were not “being taken for a ride in some way.”

“They are absolutely not,” he said.

A ComRes poll for the Independent yesterday saw a significant drop in Lib Dem support on the back of the Budget, with the party down to 18% – down five points in a week.
Tory support climbed four points to 40%.

“This is not a repeat of the 1980s,” Mr Cameron added.

“This is a different government. It’s a coalition government with the Liberal Democrats and while we have some difficult decisions to make to get the country living within its means again, we want to make sure we are fair.”

The prime minister insisted Mr Clegg played a big role in the development of policy.

“I want people who voted Liberal Democrat to know, not that they are being taken for a ride in some way – they are absolutely not. I don’t take steps without consulting with Nick, we work very, very closely together,” he said.

“It really is a partnership, it is not one plus a half, it is one plus one.”

Senior Labour figures, including leadership hopeful Ed Miliband, had demanded Lib Dem MPs vote against the Budget to prove their progressive credentials.