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24 May 2011

Cameron and Clegg at odds over Ashcroft appointment

Nick Clegg objected to the return of the man he denounced as “the Baron of Belize”.

By George Eaton

With the help of his old friend William Hague, Lord Ashcroft is to return to politics, acting as a lead adviser to the government on its review of the UK’s military bases in Cyprus. It’s nearly a year since Ashcroft gave up his non-dom tax status in order to keep his seat in the House of Lords, but we can still expect this appointment to raise a few eyebrows.

How does Nick Clegg feel about the return of the man he once denounced as the “Baron of Belize”? The BBC’s Laura Kuenssberg tweets that the Deputy PM made his objections to the appointment clear but Cameron went ahead anyway. A Lib Dem source tells her that “you can’t go the wall on every issue”.

Expect Labour to use this apparent division at the top of the government to its advantage. I’d be surprised if Ed Miliband doesn’t make at least one Ashcroft-related gag at PMQs tomorrow.

UPDATE: As a commenter points out below, parliament is now in recess for Whitsun, so there will be no PMQs tomorrow. The House returns on 7 June.

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