Nick Clegg and Vince Cable attempted a show of unity today as they made their first public appearance together since bitter infighting tore through the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Clegg said Lib Dem MPs will meet tomorrow - the day of the Queen’s Speech and the new parliamentary session - as the party attempts to ask the “most searching questions” after poor election results.
The Deputy Prime Minister pulled a pint of London’s Pride beer for Business Secretary Mr Cable and an Archer Mild Ale for himself as the pair talked pubs, policy and chandeliers on a visit to a central London pub.
At one stage, Mr Clegg was leaning on the bar with a pint in his hand while Mr Cable had one hand on his hip and a beer in the other as they tried to use the relaxed surroundings to show they are at ease in each other’s company.
Lord Oakeshott, a close friend of Mr Cable, resigned from the party after admitting he had commissioned research which indicated the Lib Dems could fare better at next year’s general election with a different leader.
Mr Cable was forced to deny he was part of a plot to oust the leader.
Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg said today: “Vince has been very, very clear - he had absolutely no idea what Matthew Oakeshott was getting up to with his polls.
“All I would say is setting personalities aside, we had a really bad result last week.
“It’s the most normal thing in the world that, after such a bad result, Vince, myself, the whole party - we’re having a parliamentary party meeting tomorrow - that we really ask ourselves the most searching questions about what we can do to make sure we get our message across.”
Mr Clegg said this included stressing his party’s role in developing the economy, pensions, taxes and schools.
Mr Cable told reporters: “We work together, I support his leadership. We’re going to move on from some very difficult elections. I’m optimistic we are going to turn this corner.”
He added: “I haven’t been communicating with Lord Oakeshott recently.”