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Clegg hits back at Gove over claims of Lib Dem leadership plot

The Education Secretary "knows a thing or two about leadership ambitions", says Clegg on his LBC phone-in show.

Nick Clegg leaves Number 10 Downing Street to attend Prime Minister's Questions. Photograph: Getty Images.

There was an amusing moment on Nick Clegg's LBC phone-in show this morning when the Deputy PM was asked when he was going to slap down the "73-year-old Marxist" who wants to replace him as leader (Vince Cable, for the record, is 70). Clegg quipped in response, "his name is Cable, not Marx, or Lenin, or Trotsky", but added more seriously, "there is no leadership contest in the Liberal Democrats. I've been leading the party for several years and will continue to do so for some time", an answer that hardly reeked of self-confidence. 

When it was suggested that the caller was referring to Michael Gove's claim at the weekend that Clegg was blocking Tory policy due to "a campaign" against him by Cable's representative on earth, Lord Oakeshott, Clegg replied: 

The day that you rely on Michael Gove for insight into what goes on in the Liberal Democrats you will be lost in an impenetrable maze.

He mischievously added that Gove "knows a thing or two about leadership ambitions". Earlier this week, ConservativeHome editor Paul Goodman suggested that "with his brains, energy and fearlessness", the Education Secretary was "emerging as the real Conservative leader." But pick up this week's NS to read why Rafael thinks Gove is more likely to end up as Chancellor in a Boris Johnson-led government (don't say we didn't warn you).