They normally meet in more formal circumstances, under the Coalition Agreement when there are disputes to settle, rows to diffuse or differences to be thrashed out.
But on Wednesday night, the “Quad” of David Cameron, Nick Clegg, George Osborne and Danny Alexander jettisoned aides for a private soiree in the Prime Minister’s Downing Street flat. Both sides were tight-lipped about what the men discussed, but Whitehall sources said that there had not been a similar meeting for “many months”.
Sources said there had been an improvement in Coalition relations following the completion of the Spending Review last month and broad agreement on the direction the Government will take when it comes back from its summer break in the autumn.
A Liberal Democrat source suggested both sides had now agreed they should have more freedom to disagree with one another in public – while continuing to work right up till April 2015: “You saw some of that with Trident where there was a pretty robust debate between Danny Alexander and Philip Hammond.”
Downing Street said there was no particular agenda behind the meeting, which consisted of a normal Cabinet meeting followed by lunch.