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.

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). 

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

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Tony Blair won't endorse the Labour leader - Jeremy Corbyn's fans are celebrating

The thrice-elected Prime Minister is no fan of the new Labour leader. 

Labour heavyweights usually support each other - at least in public. But the former Prime Minister Tony Blair couldn't bring himself to do so when asked on Sky News.

He dodged the question of whether the current Labour leader was the best person to lead the country, instead urging voters not to give Theresa May a "blank cheque". 

If this seems shocking, it's worth remembering that Corbyn refused to say whether he would pick "Trotskyism or Blairism" during the Labour leadership campaign. Corbyn was after all behind the Stop the War Coalition, which opposed Blair's decision to join the invasion of Iraq. 

For some Corbyn supporters, it seems that there couldn't be a greater boon than the thrice-elected PM witholding his endorsement in a critical general election. 

Julia Rampen is the digital news editor of the New Statesman (previously editor of The Staggers, The New Statesman's online rolling politics blog). She has also been deputy editor at Mirror Money Online and has worked as a financial journalist for several trade magazines. 

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