James Forsyth

Will Lord Carlile have the Lib Dem whip withdrawn?

Will Lord Carlile have the Lib Dem whip withdrawn?
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Nick Clegg went on Political Betting this morning to answer questions from the site’s users. Most of his answers were fairly standard, but he did hint that Lord Carlile might have the Lib Dem withdrawn from him under his leadership if he carried on advocating an extension to the 28 day pre-charge detention period.Here’s the exchange: 

Q: The Liberal Democrat peer, Lord Carlile is being quoted by the Government as a supporter of an extension in the 28 days detention. If you were Leader of the Liberal Democrats what would you do about a peer actively working with the Government contrary to the party’s policy? 

A: Alex and I have discussed this on a number of occassions and have clashed openly about his views in public. He knows how strongly I disagree with the position he has taken, as I made clear again in the House of Commons on Wednesday. He has assured me that he only speaks on this issue in his capacity as the Independent Reviewer of the Government’s anti-terrorism legislation and that he is making every effort to clarify in all media appearances that he is not doing so as a Liberal Democrat peer. Alex has done great work as a Lib Dem peer on issues as vital as mental health and prison reform. But obviously given the differences of view on such a vital issue, which is likely to loom large in the coming months, the situation will need to be kept under review. This situation will be one to watch in the coming months. The Lib Dems are desperate to establish themselves as the party of civil liberties, note Clegg’s pledge never to register for an ID card, but this image will be undercut if it is a Lib Dem peer who is making the case on 56 days.

Written byJames Forsyth

James Forsyth is Political Editor of the Spectator. He is also a columnist in The Sun.

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