Chris Huhne tipped to replace Nick Clegg and halt poll slide if he wins criminal case
22:36 GMT, 22 December 2012
Chris Huhne is tipped to replace Nick Clegg as Liberal Democrat leader if he wins a criminal case being brought against him, senior party figures claimed last night.
They say the former Energy Secretary would be the frontrunner to rescue the Lib Dems from ‘meltdown’ at the next General Election if Mr Clegg fails to halt the party’s alarming poll slide.
Last night, one Lib Dem MP described the scenario as ‘Clegg’s worst nightmare’, with Mr Huhne seen as ‘the rallying point’ for activists fed up with the current leadership’s ‘cosy’ relationship with the Tories in the Coalition.
Chris Huhne, pictured right, is tipped to replace Nick Clegg, pictured left, as Liberal Democrat leader
Only last week, Lib Dem deputy leader
Simon Hughes admitted there was growing ‘chatter’ within the party
about Mr Clegg’s leadership after months of polls suggesting the Lib
Dems will suffer huge losses at the next Election.
The prospect of Mr Huhne’s return is causing unease among former Government colleagues amid claims the MP – who resigned from the Cabinet in February to fight charges of perverting the course of justice – wants to return to his former job.
Last night, Lib Dem Euro MP Chris Davies said: ‘If Chris is cleared, we will look to him to resume a front-bench position at the earliest possibility.
‘He articulates the party’s values effectively and takes the fight to the Tories.’
A senior Lib Dem MP said a ‘reinvigorated’ Mr Huhne would be the favourite to take over from Mr Clegg.
The MP said: ‘If Chris is cleared, he will be back in the game. I think he will be a rallying point for those of us who don’t like what’s going on in the Coalition.
‘Many have realised the British public does not like Clegg. People think he’s a closet Tory.’
Mr Huhne’s political future depends on him successfully defending himself against the charges which relate to claims that he persuaded his former wife, economist Vicky Pryce, to take his speeding charge penalty points.
One Lib Dem MP described the scenario as the worst nightmare for the party leader, pictured making his keynote speech at the close of the Liberal Democrats annual conference in Brighton this year