Nick Clegg mid-speech
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Nick Clegg hits out at 'draconian' wing of Conservative Party

The Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has used a speech marking his five years as Lib Dem leader to distance his party from their Conservative government partners.

He said some Tories regarded all unemployed people as "scroungers" and wanted to impose "draconian" welfare cuts.

Mr Clegg tried to reclaim the "sensible centre ground" and mounted a vigorous defence of the coalition's welfare reforms, "The Conservatives suggested we cut an extra £10bn from welfare... But when our two parties sat down to agree a plan, the Coalition stuck to the centre ground. We agreed £3.8bn of benefit cuts. And we rejected the more extreme reforms..."

  • 17 Dec 2012