Nick Clegg appears to have ruined Tim Farron’s coronation as new leader of the Liberal Democrats by failing to recognise his own replacement.
The former leader of the struggling party made the gaffe during Farron’s maiden speech as new leader. It appears Clegg was clapping and cheering like everyone else in the room – until Farron actually took to the stage.
Clegg can then be seen mouthing the words “Who the fu** is that” to a journalist from the Sun newspaper. Natalie French is a spokesperson for the Liberal Democrats, and she attempted to explain Clegg’s remarks.
“Nick is obviously distraught that this has happened. He simply put the wrong face to the wrong name. He was expecting Alistair Carmichael, the MP for Orkney & Shetland, to walk out to applause.
“Yes, of course this is embarrassing, particularly as Nick only has to remember the names and faces of eight MPs. However, this is in no way an indication of how Nick rates Mr Farron’s ability to turn this party around.”
An embarrassed Clegg faced the press shortly after the incident, and he was in defiant mood:
“Look, It’s been a rough few weeks, and I made a mistake. I was expecting Tim Farron to walk out, and I was clearly shocked to see Alistair stride onto the stage. Wait… Farron won, didn’t he? He’s the skinny one, right?”
After giving a rousing speech in front of his seven Parliamentary colleagues, Farron promised to ‘get around the country’, and meet his MPs in their own constituencies. However, the new Lib Dem leader refused to comment on how he would be spending the rest of the day.
Due to the shortage of MPs in the party, Tim Farron announced that he would also be the spokesperson for defence, health, foreign affairs, education and culture.