Nick Clegg boycotted the announcement of the Autumn Statement after two of his most senior Liberal Democrat ministers clashed, it is claimed.
The Deputy Prime Minister was in Cornwall speaking to voters, despite the announcement this morning being one of the most important dates on the parliamentary calendar.
The Daily Telegraph reported that Mr Clegg was deliberately away during the Autumn Statement to avoid sitting next to David Cameron in Parliament.
The newspaper added that two of his senior Liberal Democrat colleagues had a confrontation on the morning of the Statement. It alleges that Business Secretary Vince Cable “erupted” at Danny Alexander, who is the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, over the Liberal Democrat’s support of public spending cuts.
Sources had told the newspaper that Mr Clegg “doesn’t want to sit next to David Cameron or George Osborne.”
The source apparently added: “He has not been there for the past two Prime Minister’s Questions. It has not done him much good, his party is still on 6 per cent [in the polls].”
Mr Clegg’s aides said he would be back on the front bench during Prime Minister’s Questions next week.
One aide reportedly added: “All he can do is sit there in silence. People say they want him to get out of Westminster more – he is making more proactive use of his time. Where Nick sits and where he goes are his decisions.”
Mr Clegg said: “This is not a snub. I’ve spent four years dutifully sitting there on the green benches.
“This year I thought it would be a nice change to get out of the Westminster bubble and see what this Autumn Statement means to people, their families and businesses.”
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