Nick Clegg visits Eastbourne for Lib Dem seminar

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg leaves The Hydro Hotel (E06004N)
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg leaves The Hydro Hotel (E06004N)

EASTBOURNE became the centre of the UK political circus as high-ranking Lib Dems, television news crews and the Deputy Prime Minister descended on the town for a seminar by the sea.

Every year Nick Clegg’s party decamp to one of their constituencies to spend 24 hours plotting the party’s strategy for the coming 12 months – with bigwigs this year opting for Eastbourne.

However, future Lib Dem policy took a back seat during the party’s whistle-stop stay, with a media scrum heading to the Hydro Hotel to catch a glimpse of the now former energy minister Chris Huhne.

The MP for Eastleigh found out while in Eastbourne that he will face charges over perverting the course of justice after it was alleged he used his former wife’s name to escape speeding penalty points.

Having discovered he is expected before magistrates alongside his ex, Vicky Pryce, Mr Huhne immediately resigned from his cabinet post.

In doing so, Mr Huhne became the first cabinet minister in history to be forced from office by criminal proceedings, although he continues to fiercely plead his innocence.

If his ex-wife admits the charge, she will likely be asked to give evidence against Mr Huhne, who she separated from back in 2010 when her husband left her for his aide, Carine Trimmingham.

The allegations stretch back to 2003 and, if he is found guilty, it would almost certainly spell an end to his political career.

The drama surrounding Mr Huhne’s resignation and subsequent replacement by fellow Lib Dem Ed Davey aside, the Lib Dems Eastbourne powwow seemed to go well.

Party insiders say Nick Clegg and his band of merry men are determined to focus more heavily on talking up Lib Dem achievements than trying to justify their relationship with David Cameron and their coalition bedfellows.

Earlier in the day, local MP Stephen Lloyd had shown government minister Danny Alexander around the town centre, keen to show off plans for a revamped Arndale Centre.

The visit was the latest in a string of trips to Eastbourne by Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

Just last year he came to town to congratulate local youngsters and businesses for the success of the 100 Apprentices in 100 Days scheme, created almost double the number of placements initially aimed for.