Storm ruins Clegg press conference

Deputy prime minister Nick Clegg has been forced to abandon his monthly press conference, after a crane collapsed on the roof of the Cabinet Office.

The government has been grappling with the implications of the St Jude's Storm battering southern Britain this morning but faced a direct impact of its own when the crane buckled in gusting winds in central London.

The incident is thought to have happened at 06:50 GMT this morning. Construction Enquirer reported the crane had been due to be dismantled this weekend – but the process had been put off because of the bad weather.

Clegg had been hoping to spend the morning answering questions from journalists exploring the extent to which he disagrees with David Cameron.

Instead his office was forced to email out a confirmation that the press conference is being rescheduled "due to the problems accessing Whitehall".

Many civil servants have struggled to reach central London as gusts of 80mph have hit many parts of the south of England.

There are now thought to be 220,000 households without power – an alarming number but significantly fewer than the four million-plus number of homes which lost electricity after the Great Storm of 1987.

And over 50 railway line blockages have been reported. Safety assessments are underway and most train operators will be running reduced services today.