Plans to allow nursery staff and childminders to look after more toddlers are likely to be dropped after Nick Clegg raised concerns today.
Nick Clegg has said the so-called Snoopers' Bill "will not happen," as he hit the campaign trail.
Baroness Thatcher was a prime minister who made Britain great again, David Cameron told MPs today.
Mr Clegg claimed the Conservative Education Secretary, who is tipped as a potential successor to David Cameron, "knows a thing or two about leadership ambitions" himself after he raised questions over Mr Clegg's leadership.
Mr Gove has suggested the Deputy Prime Minister had to "show a bit of leg" to shore up support in the face of a campaign led by Lib Dem peer Lord Oakeshott to install Business Secretary Vince Cable as the leader of the junior coalition partner.
On his LBC 97.3 phone-in Mr Clegg said: "The day that you rely on Michael Gove for an insight into what happens in the Liberal Democrats, you really will be lost in a complete impenetrable maze.
"Michael, who I think is a perfectly nice chap, doesn't know the first thing about the (Lib Dems) ... of course, he knows a thing or two about leadership ambitions, but that's a different matter."
"Westminster is full of constant tittle tattle. The Liberal Democrats under my leadership are, in a very united, strong and resolute way, doing what we always said we will do to the country which is we anchor this Government to the centre ground."
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:
– Senior Lib Dem source
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.
Lord Oakeshott has emphatically denied Michael Gove's claim that he is leading a campaign to dethrone Nick Clegg as Lib Dem leader and replace him with Vince Cable.
The peer is a close ally of Mr Cable, and has called for Mr Clegg to be replaced before, but has denied a fresh plot is under way.
Gove#Marr tries diversion from Cons Europe split with old news-I prefer Cable to Clegg,shock!But there's no plot-members decide who leads usFrom @oakeshottm on Twitter:
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.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg said he was "absolutely passionate" about improving the quality and availability of childcare but "we have got to get this right".
Asked during his phone-in show on LBC 97.3 if the Prime Minister was aware of his concerns, Mr Clegg said: "We have been talking about this for weeks and weeks."
He said: "I have got young children ... they have been through nursery so I know how much parents will really care that we get this right in terms of improving both the affordability of childcare, which we must do, but also the quality.
"What the Department for Education did is they consulted and they said is it possible to have an adult look after more children, so instead of four two-year-olds ... go up to six two-year-olds. I think four is already quite a handful, just imagine if they go up to six.
"Can you do that at the same time as raising quality? A lot of people basically got back in the consultation and said this isn't going to work, particularly for very small children, it isn't necessarily going to be passed on in terms of cost savings to parents."
Shadow education secretary Stephen Twigg tweeted:
A new Government split has emerged this morning on proposed changes to childcare regulations.
Neil Leitch, the Chief Executive of The Pre-School Learning Alliance said parents on the whole are "overwhelmingly opposed to those reforms."
"The vast majority of parents", he added, "recognise its very difficult to take care of six two-year-olds in stead of four."
Nick Clegg "remains to persuaded" of the benefits of the government's childcare reforms. His spokesman said:
The delivery of good quality affordable childcare is one of Nick Clegg's biggest priorities in government. He has looked very closely at proposals to increase the number of children each adult can look after - and at the very serious concerns raised by parents and childcare providers in the recent government consultation.
Nick remains to be persuaded that this is the right thing to do for very young children. Or, crucially, to be persuaded that this would actually help families with high childcare costs.
The government's plans to increase the number of children that nursery workers and childminders can care for were announced in January.
The new rules are due to come into force in England in September.
- One-years-old and under: Current ratio of adults to children is 1:3, this would change to 1:4
- Two-years-old and under: Current ratio is 1:4, this is due to change to 1:6
- Three-years-old and over: Current ratio is 1:8 or 1:13 (if teacher led), this would remain the same