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News, gossip and insight from PoliticsHome Editor Paul Waugh

Cleggy goes Borat




Some MPs in the Commons Tea Room are baffled as to why David Cameron is doing PMQs this week.

In a Ryanair-style turnaround, the PM will be jetting back from Zurich specially on Wednesday, before going back out to Switzerland again to lobby for England's World Cup bid.

So why can't Nick Clegg fill in this week? "Doesn't the PM trust him?" whisper the malcontents.

Well, there's a much more prosaic reason. Mr Clegg has a long-standing engagement to attend the OSCE summit in Kazakhstan. With 56 heads of state due to appear, the 2-day event is probably one of the most important the DPM has ever attended.

The PM would normally have attended the OSCE summit, but he always felt that his personal presence was needed to push the 2018 bid in the final days. Given that Zurich is quite a tad easier to get to than Astana*, it was a "no brainer" who should do PMQs.

The DPM will be briefed up to the eyeballs as he gets a first hand reaction to the Wikileaks story from guests such as President Medvedev, Angela Merkel and Hillary Clinton.

But I'm told that Mr Clegg has been warned by the Foreign Office not to be tempted into any undiplomatically humorous ice-breakers. In particular, he's been told not to make any jokes whatsoever about that great British export: Borat.

Of course, given his Cleggover nickname, the DPM may have been tempted to quote the great man:

"Jagshemash! My name a Borat. I like you. I like sex, it's nice. These are my country of a Kazakhstan."

Then again...maybe not


*FOOTNOTE: The Kazakhs are very proud that they are hosting the summit. For them, it's a way of finally killing off the Borat jibes. Some Soviet-era habits die hard, however. One Kazakh family has named their newborn Summitkhan in honour of the event.

UPDATE: The interesting issue here is the position of William Hague. As Foreign Secretary, he may have been seen as a natural stand-in for the PM at such a prestigious meeting of global leaders. Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State is replacing Obama, rather than Joe Biden, after all. 

The Foreign Office representative accompanying Mr the DPM will be David Lidington. I guess it underlines once again just how important Nick Clegg is in this Coalition.

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