We were speculating only yesterday afternoon just how irritating George Osborne must find it to have a so-called “Lib Dem Treasury spokesman” criticising the Treasury and the banks week in, week out. By the evening the answer was spelled out as Lord Oakeshott parted company with the government by apparently mutual consent.
I last spoke to the peer last Friday, when he obligingly furnished a quote for our front page criticising the bonus paid to Bob Diamond, chief executive of Barclays.
Tellingly, he asked me to use the phrase “a Lib Dem Treasury spokesman” rather than “the Lib Dem Treasury spokesman”, reflecting his increasingly outsider status in the coalition. (One Lib Dem cabinet ministers calls him a ‘renegade‘). But it is worth noting that Matthew Oakeshott is close to Vince Cable; the two went skiing together over the New Year?
Osborne may hope that the Lib Dem peer will no longer pop up in newspapers and TV screens criticising his policies. This may be wishful thinking, given he was on the Today programme this morning repeating his concerns about Project Merlin. Journalists may still call him for comment, despite his waning relevance, simply using a new phrase: “Former Lib Dem Treasury spokesman”.