Nick agrees with George – and fails to defend his constituents

Nick Clegg today sat shoulder-to-shoulder with George Osborne in defending the axing of the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters - in his constituency - forcing the plant to stop work on a new press for nuclear power plants which would have resulted in the creation of 200 jobs.

Nick Clegg today sat shoulder-to-shoulder with George Osborne in defending the axing of the loan to Sheffield Forgemasters – in his constituency – forcing the plant to stop work on a new press for nuclear power plants which would have resulted in the creation of 200 jobs. In his constituency. The deputy prime minister spent the entire election campaign, and the TV debates in particular, telling anyone who would listen that he was in it to represent his Sheffield constituency, constantly repeating the refrain.

Yet today, he floundered over the justification for the decision when questioned by Jack Straw at prime minister’s questions, taking his cues from George Osborne, to all the world looking his chief political strategist, the organ grinder, nodding away like the Churchill dog, on hand to brief the monkey.

Having had his pep talk, Clegg failed to answer Straw’s questions over Forgemasters – in particular the point raised in yesterday’s Financial Times. The FT had reported that Graham Honeyman, Forgemasters’ chief executive, told the deputy prime minister he was willing to dilute his share, something Clegg admitted in a private letter to the businessman.

Clegg wrote:

“[You] made clear to me your own willingness to dilute your equity share.”

The letter contradicted statements made by Clegg and the prime minister to the Commons. Clegg had said:

“Do I think it is the role of government to help out owners of companies who do not want to dilute their own shareholdings? No I do not.”

While Cameron told MPs:

“The question is whether it is an appropriate use of taxpayers’ money to give [the loan] to a business that could raise that money by diluting its shareholding.”

Today, however, Clegg failed to apologise to the House for misleading it, despite being invited to on numerous occasions… that’s Nick Clegg, who has a Sheffield constituency (and a new best friend!)

Update 16:30hrs

Thanks to our friends at The Guardian, who have clipped the exchanges for everyone’s enjoyment:

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