Politics.co.uk Blog

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

If Cameron dies, who takes over?

That was the question posed by the rather eccentric Conservative backbencher Peter Bone to Nick Clegg in deputy prime minister's questions this lunchtime.

Mr Bone, who is well-known in Westminster for his penchant for including the views of his wife Mrs Bone in Commons questions, kept the other half at home for his query to the DPM.

"I wish the deputy prime minister a merry Christmas," he began deceptively, "but if the prime minister was killed in a terrorist attack, who would take charge of the government?"

This was an important question of constitutional significance, perfectly legitimate given Clegg's responsibility for that portfolio. It also set up the political punchline which was the whole point of the exercise.

Bone added: "Will the deputy prime minister confirm that it would not be him, as he leads a party that has less support than the UK Independence party?"

Ouch! Most recent polls have kept Britain's third party in their traditional place, but one recently did put eurosceptic Ukip ahead of the Lib Dems. How embarrassing for Clegg, who managed to keep his head and come up with a very effective answer.

He replied: "I receive his season’s greetings in the spirit in which they were intended. As he knows, appropriate arrangements would be made in that very unfortunate event. I must say, however, that his morbid fascination with the premature death of his own party leader is a subject not for me, but for the chief whip."

Very neatly done from the Lib Dem leader. But it didn't really answer the question, did it?

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