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In an unprecedented hardening of their position against their coalition partners, the Liberal Democrats today showed their anger with David Cameron by allowing him to win a vote in parliament.

Lib Dem sources said the Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg had been at loggerheads with the prime minister over David Cameron’s decision not to refer culture secretary Jeremy Hunt to an investigation by Sir Alex Allan, the adviser on the ministerial code and had repeatedly warned Cameron that the Liberal Democrats felt strongly enough about the issue to abstain and allow him to win any parliamentary vote on the issue.

As a result, in what is one of the most serious breaches in coalition unity, the deputy prime minister ordered Liberal Democrat MPs to make a stand by not doing anything:

By not refusing to accept not to vote on not referring the Culture Secretary to Sir Alex – and standing by our principles by refusing to do anything at all about anything – we will be sending a clear and unequivocal message to the Prime Minister that we won’t stand by and do something about anything at all – especially about the things we feel really strongly about. I think.

Senior Conservative Party sources were said to be ‘livid’ with anger over the Liberal Democrats hardline stand and hinted the Prime Minister was even considering serious sanctions against their coalition partners such as refusing to buy Nick Clegg a drink at the bar or not inviting him to his next birthday party.

But the Lib Dems said they would not back the Labour motion because the Labour leader Ed Miliband had not at any time invited any of them to his birthday party either.

The only previous time the Liberal Democrats have broken ranks with their coalition colleagues was over a motion to allow ginger nuts to be served with coffee in coalition cabinet meetings as they said it would be offensive to Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander.


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