The government won’t fall over the Lib Dems abstaining on an opposition motion attacking Jeremy Hunt. But Nick Clegg’s decision to order his MPs to sit out today’s vote is another sign of how the ties that bind the coalition are weakening.
Those close to Clegg argue that because Cameron did not consult Clegg when referring Hunt to the independent adviser on the ministerial code, the deputy PM can’t be expected to defend it as a collective decision. This line has some merit. But there’s no getting away from the fact that Tory ministers and MPs feel that the Lib Dems have chosen to kick a Cabinet colleague when he’s down.
Cabinet collective responsibility is already a much diminished concept under this coalition government. But the next time Hunt sits down at the Cabinet table, he’ll know that several of those present don’t think he should be there. That has got to affect the workings of government.Tags: Coalition, Jeremy Hunt, Nick Clegg