Plane speaking embarrasses Clegg

Nick Clegg’s indiscreet remarks on a passenger plane about his “useless” frontbenchers have left the Liberal Democrat leader more than a little embarrassed.

‘Calamity Clegg’, as his critics call him, was quoted by a Sunday Mirror journalist sitting in front of him on the 90-minute flight to Scotland.

He said home affairs spokesperson and former leadership rival Chris Huhne lacked “emotional intelligence” and that “problem” environment spokesperson Steve Webb “must go”.

David Laws, currently the party’s education spokesman, came in for rare praise for his “forensic intelligence”.

But the rest of the frontbenchers received a roasting, with Mr Clegg calling them “not equipped” for the job.

The Lib Dem leader also hinted he would be prepared to enter into a coalition in the event of a hung parliament at the next election – “but only if the Tories lose, and I can’t imagine that”.

Mr Clegg has dismissed the story – or “a lot of it” at least – as “fiction”.