Campbell denies spat with Clegg over Commons stunt

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Indy Politics

Sir Menzies Campbell, the former Liberal Democrat leader, is said to be furious over claims that he privately criticised his successor, Nick Clegg, for "childish" behaviour by staging a Commons walkout.

Leading Liberal Democrats walked out of the chamber last Tuesday when they were denied a vote on a European referendum during the passage of the legislation to ratify the amended EU constitution. Mr Clegg is expected to defend their action today.

Sir Menzies is known to frown on stunts in the Commons, and is said to have been unhappy about the Liberal Democrat boycott of the recent Saudi state visit by the stand-in leader, Vince Cable. But Sir Menzies made it clear yesterday to senior colleagues of Mr Clegg that he had not criticised him behind his back. "He's very annoyed about the report. It is not true," said one party official. Another Liberal Democrat said: "Ming wasn't very happy about the boycott of the Saudi visit but I haven't heard him complaining about the walkout."

The Liberal Democrats are planning to abstain in a vote on Wednesday for a referendum on the Lisbon Treaty, although some MPs may vote with the Tories. Labour Eurosceptics may also support the Tories.

A private poll by the I Want a Referendum campaign showed yesterday that 88 per cent of the public want a referendum.

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