Nick Clegg offered to stand down as Liberal Democrat leader after last year’s disastrous European Parliament and local council elections, according to a report.
He only decided to stay after canvassing opinion among a number of leading party members, including some of his opponents on the left of the party.
A senior Lib Dem said Mr Clegg told him at the time: “If I believe – and I think I’m very close to it – that I am the problem and not the solution, then I have to stand to one side.”
However, the insider replied: “You don’t have that luxury – this is your burden now, you have to carry it through to the election. Whether you believe that or not, it’s tough titty.”
The party’s president, Tim Farron, left a friend’s wedding to speak to Mr Clegg in a car park, The Guardian reported. “Nick was just distraught about everything,” said Mr Farron. “I just thought, ‘This could end up in a bloodbath’, and we’re far better off sticking with the captain who has done nothing to deserve this.