Norman Baker resigns: The Tories 'behave like they won the last election', says Tim Farron

Mr Baker complained that the Tories 'act as though they won the election'

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Indy Politics

Norman Baker's resignation is actually proof that the Coalition is working, even though the Tories "behave like they won the last election", according to the president of the Liberal Democrats.

The crime prevention minister launched an attack on Theresa May in an interview with The Independent announcing his departure, after publicly clashing with the Home Secretary on several issues.

His move has been seen by some as further evidence that the Coalition is falling apart as tensions rise leading up to May's general election but Tim Farron insisted that was far from the truth.

"The evidence that the Coalition is working well is that this is the only time this has happened in four and a half years," the Liberal Democrat president told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

"This is the exception that proves the rule."

But he did back Mr Baker's claims that the Tories are governing as though they won an outright majority in 2010 and not adequately realising their Coalition partners.

"I'm not here to lay into Theresa May but there is a sense within the Home Office, and it's sensed around the rest of Government on both sides of the Coalition, that Theresa May behaves as though the Conservatives won the last election - and they didn't," Mr Farron said.

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"They didn't win the last election and it's an insult to the electorate to act as though they did."

Damian Green, a former Conservative minister, painted a picture of a more personal dispute, telling the Today programme Mr Baker had acted as if he had the same ministerial rank as Mrs May.

"He regarded himself as being on a par with the Home Secretary and asked for papers from other ministers, he wanted to check what everyone else was doing," he said.

"The world doesn't work like that. If you are a minister of state, in the end you work for the Secretary of State in that department."

Responding to the comparison of Mr Baker being the "only hippy" at the "Iron Maiden" concert of a Tory Home Office, Mr Green added: "The more appropriate musical analogy is that he was a guitarist who was only interested in his own solos while the rest of the band was trying to play a close harmony number."

Mr Baker told The Independent that the experience of working at the Home Office had been like “walking through mud” as he found his plans thwarted by the Home Secretary and her advisers.

“They have looked upon it as a Conservative department in a Conservative government, whereas in my view it’s a Coalition department in a Coalition government,” he said.

“That mindset has framed things, which means I have had to work very much harder to get things done even where they are what the Home Secretary agrees with and where it has been helpful for the Government and the department.

“There comes a point when you don’t want to carry on walking through mud and you want to release yourself from that.”

Additional reporting by PA

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