POLITICS

Chris Huhne Deserves Place At 'Top Table' Of Politics, Says Nick Clegg

10/01/2013 15:47 GMT | Updated 28/01/2013 22:43 GMT

Nick Clegg has said he would like to Chris Huhne return to the cabinet if the former energy secretary is cleared of perverting the course of justice related to a speeding offence.

The Lib Dem leader told journalists in Westminster on Thursday that Huhne was a "formidable and accomplished politician" who he wanted to see back at the "top table" of British politics.

Clegg's desire to have Huhne back inside the coalition maaxy in part be motivated by the view that it is better to have him inside doing nasty things to those outside it, than outside it doing nasty things to those within.

Asked if that meant the clock was ticking on the cabinet career of Huhne's replacement at the Department of Energy and Climate Change, Ed Davey, Clegg praised Davey for the job he was doing. However it is Davey who appears the most vulnerable.

Under the current terms of the coalition the Lib Dems are allocated five cabinet positions. They are currently filled by Vince Cable at the business department, Michael Moore in the Scotland Office, Danny Alexander at the Treasury, Davey at DECC and Clegg himself.

Cable, the biggest beast in the party after Clegg, is unlikely to step aside for Huhne and with a referendum on independence on the horizon the deputy prime minister will not want to replace his Scottish Scotland secretary, Moore, with an Englishman with a south coast constituency.

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Huhne may have long has his eye on Clegg's job, but the Lib Dem leader is hardly going to give up his own seat at the table.

It would seem unfair for Clegg to reward his ally Alexander for being the face of public spending cuts over the course of the last two years by ditching him. And would Huhne, who fashions himself on the left of the party, really want to take over the job of public spending axeman alongside George Osborne?

Barring a reshuffle of ministries, on the face of it it looks like Davey is the most vulnerable to a triumphant Huhne return - assuming he is not convicted of course.