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Show of unity? Twickenham MP Vince Cable enjoys a beer with Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg
Nick Clegg and Vince Cable attempted a show of unity today as they made their first public appearance together since bitter infighting tore through the Liberal Democrats.
Mr Clegg said Lib Dem MPs will meet tomorrow - the day of the Queen's Speech and the new parliamentary session - as the party attempts to ask the "most searching questions" after poor election results.
The Deputy Prime Minister pulled a pint of London's Pride beer for Dr Cable, the Twickenham MP and Business Secretary.
Mr Clegg, who lives in nearby Putney, pulled an Archer Mild Ale for himself as the pair talked pubs, policy and chandeliers on a visit to a central London pub.
At one stage, Mr Clegg was leaning on the bar with a pint in his hand while Mr Cable had one hand on his hip and a beer in the other as they tried to use the relaxed surroundings to show they are at ease in each other's company.
Lord Oakeshott, a close friend of Mr Cable, resigned from the party after admitting he had commissioned research which indicated the Lib Dems could fare better at next year's general election with a different leader.
Mr Cable was forced to deny he was part of a plot to oust the leader.
Lib Dem leader Mr Clegg said today: "Vince has been very, very clear - he had absolutely no idea what Matthew Oakeshott was getting up to with his polls.
"All I would say is setting personalities aside, we had a really bad result last week.
"It's the most normal thing in the world that, after such a bad result, Vince, myself, the whole party - we're having a parliamentary party meeting tomorrow - that we really ask ourselves the most searching questions about what we can do to make sure we get our message across."
Mr Clegg said this included stressing his party's role in developing the economy, pensions, taxes and schools.
thinkmoney.co.uk/PersonalAccount Mr Cable told reporters: "We work together, I support his leadership. We're going to move on from some very difficult elections. I'm optimistic we are going to turn this corner."
He added: "I haven't been communicating with Lord Oakeshott recently."
Asked if he had the support of his entire team, Mr Clegg said: "Yes, I think the team is very united.
"I think we've surprised people over and over again, have done in the last four years, but of course we've had a tough time of it.
"Going into coalition cost us a lot of support - the day we did it - and that's understandable because there are some people who don't like the fact that we have reached across political boundaries to do what we think is the right thing for the country."
Asked if it was a show of unity, Mr Clegg said: "No. Vince and I have worked together for years as party colleagues, as old friends, and will continue to do so.
"Clearly we've had a really difficult time - just look at the election results - neither Vince nor I are in any way trying to brush that under the carpet.
"But we're determined to work together, as is the whole team in the Liberal Democrats, to make sure we learn any lessons that we need to learn - there are always lessons to learn because of our poor election results - but that we don't in any way hesitate in putting forward the unique contribution that the Liberal Democrats have provided, to not only fixing the British economy but also doing so many good things for millions of people across the country."
Mr Cable and Mr Clegg were on a planned visit to the Queen's Head to announce new pub proposals.
They chatted with staff about the industry and sat together side by side at a table decorated with flowers as they supped on their pints.
Both appeared to enjoy around half of their drinks before the media were asked to leave.
As he eyed the menu, Mr Clegg said he would have fancied the slow-roast pork although he was not placing an order.
The Deputy Prime Minister also told reporters: "Both Vince and I want to work closely together, as we have done for many, many years, to make sure the unique contribution to British politics - not just in this Government but more generally - of the Liberal Democrats, as an independent liberal party, is as forcefully explained as we can possibly do as a team."
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