Peter Hoskin

Whatever happens, Clegg has sullied his credibility with the Tories

Whatever happens, Clegg has sullied his credibility with the Tories
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Let's not get ahead of ourselves: some sort of deal between the Lib Dems and the Tories is still a distinct possibility, even if negotiations have been rocked by the events of yesterday. But whether it goes through or not, Clegg has seriously dented his credibility in Tory circles. Backbenchers who were warming to the idea of a formal Lib-Con coalition a few days ago – if only to scupper Labour's hopes – are now dead set against it. The very notion of Clegg as Home Secretary is becoming a collective anathema.

The question now is whether – failing a Lib-Lab coalition – the Tory leadership is more inclined towards a confidence and supply deal than they were before.  Because if the actual levers of power start to recede from Clegg's grasp, then his party may start to look more closely at their underwhelming election performance.

UPDATE: Speaking to the BBC, Michael Gove has just said that a Lib-Con deal would involve Cabinet seats for Liberal Democrats.  So it seems as though the levers of power are still within Clegg's clutches. But, as I say above, fewer people will be happy with this than a couple days ago.