14/02/2014 06:17 GMT | Updated 14/02/2014 06:59 GMT

Nick Clegg Accused Of 'Sh*tty Dishonesty' By Tory MP Over Recall U-Turn

Jonathan Brady/PA Wire
The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg takes part in the first national 'Call Clegg' phone-in on LBC since the London radio station started broadcasting across the UK on digital radio.

Liberal Democrats have accused David Cameron of scuppering plans to allow voters to get rid of MPs who misbehave, a claim dismissed as "shitty" dishonesty by the leading Tory advocate of the plan.

The coalition agreement of 2010 included a promise of early legislation to introduce a "power of recall" allowing voters to force their MP to face a by-election by raising a petition of 10% of constituents.

But the Lib Dems said that Cameron has now blocked a bill to create a recall power from inclusion in the final Queen's Speech of the Parliament.

If no bill is included in the Speech, expected in May, there is virtually no chance of it becoming law before next year's general election

The 2010 coalition agreement stated: "We will bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrong-doing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents."

Lib Dem president Tim Farron told BBC Radio 4's Today programme: "We understand that the prime minister has blocked it. Nick Clegg wanted it in the Queen's Speech, which would have meant that there was a bill there that we could have discussed which would have meant that MPs guilty of wrongdoing could be recalled."

However Tory Zac Goldsmith, the leading voice in favour of recall on the backbenches, angrily dismissed Farron's claim that it was entirely down to Cameron that the policy was not being introduced.

The Richmond MP has been highly critical of Clegg's specific recall plan, having argued it would have left the decision up to whether an MP should face a by-election in the hands of politicians not the people. But he expressed anger at the plan being dropped entirely.

"Clegg told me he couldn't back a proper Recall Bill (despite his manifesto promise) because MPs might actually be sacked," he tweeted.

"Now in typical Lib Dem fashion, Clegg is briefing that the Tories have ditched Recall (his department is supposed to be delivering it)."

Goldsmith added: "Even by the shitty standards of dishonest UK politics, the Lib Dems really are revolting. I cannot understand why anyone supports them."

He said Cameron should show "backbone" and "slam Clegg's sleazy pretence that he's been trying to get recall through" before introducing his own bill.

He said: "Parties can stuff their manifestos full of clever promises, but if voters don't believe them, they may as well present blank sheets "

In a lengthy conversation on Twitter, Farron told Goldsmith that he also wanted a strong power of recall but the only way to achieve it would be for Cameron to agree to include a bill in the Queen's Speech.

"You and I would want a stronger recall than coalition signed up to - but Nick wants recall in Queens Speech, we should back him," he said. "I want strong recall like you, but some recall is better than none, DC apparently wants none... call him and sort him out."

Under the coalition (now ditched) proposals an MP would only have faced a by-election if they were sentenced to jail for more than 12-months or if the Commons standards and privileges committee, which is made up of MPs, decided he or she was guilty of "serious wrongdoing".

Goldsmith has long argued that the decision as to whether trigger a by-election should have been more directly in the hands of the people.

Conservative Douglas Carswell said he was "bitterly disappointed" that recall had been ditched. "Retreat from recall: Westminster political class looks real democratic accountability in the face. Then blinks," he said.