UK Politics

David Laws warns Lib Dems to stop sniping at Tories

David Laws
Image caption Lib Dems should not sulk about being in government, David Laws said

Lib Dems should stop sniping at Tories and use their time in the coalition as an "opportunity to make a difference", ex-minister David Laws has warned.

In a swipe at Energy Secretary Chris Huhne, who confronted Tory colleagues in Cabinet, Mr Laws said "banging crockery" would not win influence.

The Lib Dem MP for Yeovil was giving his first interview to the Times since his seven-day ban from the Commons.

He was forced to quit the government after 17 days over expense claims.

The then chief secretary to the treasury was considered a rising star and had been one of the Liberal Democrat negotiators who hammered out the coalition deal last May.

This week the parliamentary standards commissioner found the former city worker breached expenses rules by claiming for rent to disguise the fact the man he called his landlord was his partner.

He has voluntarily repaid more than £56,000, saying he made the expenses claims to keep his sexuality private.

'Understanding' parents

However, he told the Times it was a relief no longer to have to hide his relationship. His parents - who learnt he was gay from media reports - have been "incredibly understanding and supportive".

"That has been the silver lining in an otherwise rather difficult period of time," he said.

"The irony is that the private life bit, although it is the part that caused problems with my expenses, ended up being the simplest and most straightforward thing to resolve."

On the future of the Party, he warned Lib Dems: "Our continued effective delivery of policies depends not just on shouting and our public profile, but on a trusting relationship between the key people in the coalition.

"We could get our way on one or two key issues by storming off, voting against them, briefing against them, whatever.

"But when the next key issue is on the table and we need the cooperation of everybody in the coalition, will we get it? Maybe we won't.

"The opportunity to make a difference in national politics is a very special one and we shouldn't be sitting around in the corner of the political room sulking about the fact that we are in government and looking forward to the opportunity when we can return to the splendid irrelevance of opposition."

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