Clegg denies Lib Dems have ‘gone native’ under Conservatives

Nick Clegg today denied that the Liberal Democrats were suffering from "Stockholm syndrome", after one of his senior ministers was accused of 'going native' within the Conservative-led government.

Clegg rejected suggestions from an aide to the Chancellor George Osborne, that the Lib Dem leader was worried about Danny Alexander going over to the other side.

"I think Nick Clegg complains quite often that Danny Alexander has gone native in the Treasury," Conservative MP Rob Wilson told a group of activists on Monday.

"I think there is some truth in the fact he has gone native in the Treasury. The relationship is very good within the Treasury team," he said, adding that "everybody is friends" within the team.

Labour MP Kevin Brennan today confronted Clegg about the claims at deputy prime minister's questions.

"I know the deputy prime minister will be aware of the concept of Stockholm syndrome where captives increasingly empathise with their captors.

"What's he going to do to deprogram the Treasury one?"

Clegg dismissed Wilson's claims.

"I have just seen these quotes from the honourable member who claims he is extremely close to the chancellor and knows his mind and is the chancellors wingman.

"Well he is as good a wingman as Icarus was in flying off on his own wings, judged by his comments."

He insisted that Alexander's heart was still in the right place

"Only last week he was saying that further cuts for the very wealthiest in society would happen over his dead body. In that and in so many other examples shows that his Liberal Democrat heart is exactly where it should be."

The row comes as Liberal Democrats seek to employ a stronger "differentiation" strategy in order to distance themselves from the Conservatives in the run up to the next election.

Schools minister David Laws last week took an unusually strong stance against Michael Gove's decision not to reappoint the chair of Ofsted Baroness Sally Morgan.

Lib Dem peer Matthew Oakeshott has described it as "the enemy within" strategy, suggesting that the party will do more to criticise their partners in the coalition from now on.