NICK Clegg restored his political authority today by threatening a revolt over the use of punctuation in the NHS reform bill.
The deputy prime minister said the use of commas on pages 4, 18, 37 and 112 had left him ‘ideologically troubled’.
He has also demanded that health secretary Andrew Lansley remove at least 200 full stops while guaranteeing that there will be no cut to frontline curly brackets.
He said: “I met with Andrew Lansley yesterday and I told him in no uncertain terms that the proposed NHS regulator should have a capital ‘R’.
“I then looked him straight in the eye and said, ‘I warn you now sir, if you do not remove that semi-colon from page 17 I will bring this government crashing to the ground and to bloody hell with you and your rich friends’.
“‘FOR I AM A LIBERAL DEMOCRAT’.”
An ebullient Mr Clegg was then congratulated by his Lib Dem colleagues all of whom were wearing large badges emblazoned with the letter ‘R’.
Business secretary and coalition sceptic, Vince Cable, said: “I think the people who voted for us would rightly feel betrayed if we allowed important NHS-related words to go uncapitalised.
“This is a coalition of equal partners and I think that over the next few months you will see a lot more government punctuation being fiddled about with. Sometimes radically.”
Jane Thompson, an ecstatic Lib Dem voter from Peterborough, said: “This is more like it. Hopefully this victory will now lead to the reinstatement of the comma between the nine and the zeroes in ‘£9000 a year’.”