Political Scrapbook can lift the lid on Vince Cable’s links to a 2014 plot to overthrow Nick Clegg — dubbed the most “ham-fisted attempt at a coup since Mark Thatcher”.
The business secretary used a series of bizarre excuses and sent misleading information to the standards tsar while attempting to shirk responsibility for his failure to declare a £6,000 donation-in-kind.
As we revealed last night, Cable and his parliamentary aide Tessa Munt MP have been ordered to apologise. Scrapbook has copies of the reports into the pair, with inquiries started as a direct result of evidence supplied by this blog.
Among the most eyebrow raising revelations is Cable’s admission to using his wife’s email account to take receipt of expensive private polling from his friend Lord Oakeshott. The peer was using the surveys in an attempt to destabilise Nick Clegg.
The cabinet minister was accompanied by two special advisers in a formal interview with the standards commissioner:
SpAd: Can I suggest two other questions? Vince, do you have access to [your wife’s] email account?
Cable: No I don’t. She does her own emails … She happens to be my wife and sometimes we communicate through her because she has email.
It goes down hill from there.
Knowing that the date he took receipt of the poll was material to the commissioner’s inquiry, Cable initially claimed that he “only became aware in mid-May that the opinion poll had in fact been conducted”, before Lord Oakeshott contradicted him by revealing that he had sent it to Mrs Cable and texted Vince with the news on 17 April.
And apparently it “didn’t concern” him that his friend was plotting against his party leader and cabinet colleague:
“Well, yes, he had a different agenda. He was interested in the overall national story, that he was doing other surveys and he had a particular point he wanted to make about the popularity of the leadership, which was not my concern.”
But perhaps the most damning revelations come in the commissioner’s report on Tessa Munt, who admitted that Oakeshott had sent her a handwritten note encouraging her to move against Clegg, drawing attention to the figures below showing Cable as leader would give her a three-point boost:
As the row exploded last year she even invented an imaginary holiday in a desperate bid to avoid questions from the press.