Tories and Lib Dems call a truce after leak accusations

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Relations between Nick Clegg and Michael Gove have reportedly deteriorated. Photo: Stefan Rousseau/PA Archive/Press Association Images

By Tom Bradby, Political Editor

If the different parties in this coalition government sometimes seem to want to convince us they are permanently at war, the real truth is that relations between them have been notably cordial.

There are fewer arguments, or at least personal differences, at the top than in any single party government in recent memory.

But Michael Gove and Nick Clegg have developed a notable emnity. Part of the problem is that Mr Clegg takes a close interest in education and Mr Gove wishes he wouldn't.

The Lib Dems are focused on their own policies, like extending free school meals. Mr Gove and his staff are intent on building the Free Schools programme whilst they have the chance.

In austerity Britain, budgets only stretch so far and the Lib Dems insist spending on Free Schools is out of control.

David Cameron and Nick Clegg have agreed to stop tit-for-tat leaking from within the Government. Credit: Jeremy Selwyn/PA Wire/Press Association Images

The latest statistic of concern, they say, is that the DOE is spending on 170 Free Schools roughly the same amount of cash as it gives to the maintenance of the 24,000 schools in the country as a whole.

In austerity Britain, budgets only stretch so far and the Lib Dems insist spending on Free Schools is out of control.

The latest statistic of concern, they say, is that the DOE is spending on 170 Free Schools roughly the same amount of cash as it gives to the maintenance of the 24,000 schools in the country as a whole.

It's not clear that there is a precise equivalence in that parallel, but it is certainly exercising them.

Senior Lib Dems are incensed, accusing Michael Gove of undermining collective responsibility by selectively leaking all kinds of documents, including those relating to policy on knife crime.

Treasury officials are said to have wanted to call in the police to determine how some of their documents got out, though this has now been ruled out.

The Tories think the idea of the Lib Dems accusing them of perfidy is rich indeed. They believe the Lib Dems are 'blocking' a whole range of potentially popular policies.

But the situation is bad enough for Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg to have met today to try and bring a halt to the tit-for-tat leaking. Apparently, they agreed to take 'vigorous action.'