By Ray Fleming

THE past few days have probably been the most testing yet for the Lib-Con Coalition in respect of crisis management and both David Cameron and William Hague have been forced into making apologies for the government's apparent failure to provide the basic evacuation facilities that hundreds of British people in Libya needed. Mr Hague was very open in his media interviews about the reasons for an inadequate response on Wednesday and yesterday Mr Cameron did not draw back from apologising in interviews he gave from the Middle East where he most inconveniently finds himself at this difficult time. Obviously, the government will hold an inquiry into the problems that have arisen and into its response to them, as soon as possible.

However reactions to Nick Clegg's comments yesterday can be instantaneous. Telling an interviewer that he had forgotten he was “holding the fort” in Mr Cameron's absence he added that he was hoping to get away with his kids to his chalet in Switzerland for a break (and indeed reportedly did so later in the day). I hope those milling around Tripoli airport hoping for a flight home will not have heard the Deputy Prime Minister's crass comment. Whether or not he intended it as a joke, as his spokesman claimed, is beside the point, as is whether he was formally in charge in Mr Cameron's absence. As Deputy Prime Minister he should not have spoken in that way at this time.