The Liberal Democrats have denied claims from senior Conservatives that Nick Clegg opposed Tory childcare reforms in an attempt to fight off a campaign to oust him as party leader and install Vince Cable.
A senior Lib Dem source has said Nick Clegg "will not allow dogma to be put ahead of the interests of Britain's children" after Michael Gove claimed the Deputy Prime Minister was opposing Tory childcare reforms to help protect his position as party leader:
We appreciate that Michael has ambitions of his own and is keen to distract attention from his party's divisions on Europe. But he knows our concerns are based on the overwhelmingly negative response from experts and parents to the government's consultation.
Those are concerns a number of Conservatives have expressed in private.
Nick Clegg will not allow dogma to be put ahead of the interests of Britain's children, especially when there's no evidence whatsoever that it would reduce the sky high costs of childcare.
Senior Tories have claimed that Nick Clegg is fighting an effort to depose him as Liberal Democrat party leader.
Education Secretary Michael Gove said Clegg has opposed Tory childcare reforms to "show a bit of leg" amid reports of efforts to undermine his position.
"There is a campaign being led by Matthew Oakeshott, this Liberal Democrat in the Lords, to try to destabilise Nick Clegg because Matthew Oakeshott wants Vince Cable to succeed him. Nick, understandably, needs to show Lib Dems that he is fighting hard," said Gove.
Defence Secretary Philip Hammond joined the speculation, telling BBC1's Sunday Politics: "Vince Cable has always been ambitious and he has always carved out a slightly distinctive position for himself."
Clegg has signalled that he does not support a Tory proposal to loosen staff-to-child ratios in nurseries.
The Lib Dems have dismissed Gove's claims as "loopy", the BBC reported.