A new biography of David Cameron’s premiership has claimed that Nick Clegg was given an opportunity by George Osborne to 'pass' on the rise in university tuition fees - but rejected it.
The biography, written by Anthony Seldon and Peter Snowdon, is based on over 300 in-depth interviews with senior figures in the government, including the Prime Minister himself.
The excerpt from Cameron at 10, regarding Clegg’s decision, reads:
Tuition fees for university students are to rise, despite a clear Lib Dem pledge to oppose any such increase. Osborne recognises that it will be a significant hit for Clegg (he tells his Tory staff, ‘They are mad to let us do this’), and offers to pass on the proposal telling him the change is not imperative.
Clegg rejects the offer, a momentous decision for the future of the Liberal Democrats, believing again that the change is part of the necessary punishment.
James O'Shaughnessy, Cameron’s former director of policy, tweeted in May that Clegg showed false remorse for the rise in tuition fees, breaking the Liberal Democrat election pledge.
[Nick] Clegg [is] talking crap on tuition fees. He wasn't between 'rock and hard place'. I was in the room when he decided to vote for it. He was keen.
In 2012 Clegg apologised for breaking his pledge, telling voters in a video message on YouTube:
It was a pledge made with the best of intentions – but we should not have made a promise we were not absolutely sure we could deliver.
At the 2015 election the Lib Dems only gained eight seats, leading to Clegg’s resignation. He was not given a role in new leader Tim Farron's spokesperson team.