By Ray Fleming

COALITIONS are difficult things to manage but the members of Britain's Lib-Con coalition has been at the game for more than a year-and-a-half and should be better at it by now than they are proving to be.

On Monday Nick Clegg addressed a meeting of fellow Liberals from EU countries and told them that the veto used by prime minister Cameron at the Brussels summit in December should be regarded as representing a “temporary arrangement” rather than a final and lasting position by Britain. There is, of course, a debate about whether Mr Cameron could veto something which did not at that moment exist but it would be useful to know whether Mr Clegg's statement, which was welcomed by his EU Liberal friends, is now coalition policy -- and what it actually means.

Some Eurosceptic Conservative backbenchers certainly want to know.

Monday's statement on a referendum on Scottish independence has also caused coalition problems. The government's minister for Scotland, Michael Moore, is a Liberal Democrat, and is reported to be put out that the lead on the Cabinet discussion on the referendum was taken by George Osborne, the Chancellor of the Exchequer.

The Labour opposition is not well-pleased either because it was not consulted or even informed about the announcement from Downing Street -- a breach of normal procedure on a constitutional issue of this kind.


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