Education Secretary Michael Gove's deputy, the Liberal Democrat David Laws, is reportedly determined to ensure that "Conservative game-playing" does not destroy the schools inspectorate Ofsted.
A "Liberal Democrat source" is quoted in several publications saying that "the decision to get rid of [Ofsted chair] Sally Morgan had absolutely nothing to do with her abilities, or even education policy, and everything to do with Michael Gove's desire to get his own people on board."
The move by Mr Gove threatens to "destabilise" and "undermine the independence of" the schools inspectorate, the source is quoted as saying.
The Liberal Democrats are responsible for a "huge amount" of the best policies to have come out of the coalition, David Laws has claimed.
Schools Minister Mr Laws, who is one of Nick Clegg's closest allies, credited the Lib Dems for coming up with the government's "main tax policy".
He said: "The biggest, most expensive policy that the coalition is delivering is the policy to raise the tax-free personal allowance to £10,000 per year, helping people in lower and middle incomes - that's straight out of the front page of the Lib Dem manifesto."
Speaking on the second day of the party's autumn conference in Glasgow, he compared this to an "odd" pledge by David Cameron to raise the inheritance tax threshold for millionaires to £1m, before it was eventually "junked" by his party.
Mr Laws said: "I didn't set out particularly to embarrass Liam, but he'd left a note which frankly does sum up precisely the state of the Treasury when he left it - which was completely empty of money."
The former Chief Secretary to the Treasury said: "I really didn't regard it as a big thing and I only mentioned it almost by accident at a press conference that we held a few days in to the government, not expecting rather naively, the huge reaction that it got."