Cameron and Clegg clash over internships

This weekend saw a public row over comments by David Cameron that appear to contradict his deputy’s policy on internships.

The Prime Minister admitted in interview to recently giving work experience to a neighbour’s son. Cameron defended the allocation of internships to his friends’ children and said he was “very relaxed” about the situation and that he would go on offering work experience based on “all sorts of contacts”.

The remarks appeared to undermine Nick Clegg’s policies for improving social mobility, unveiled earlier this month. Clegg’s policy focuses on ending the nepotism connected to internships and opening up internships to everyone not just the “well-connected”. He urged companies to ensure all internships are transparently advertised giving young people fair access to all professions.

Over the weekend Clegg admitted he disagreed with Cameron. “I’m not relaxed about this at all,” he said. “It just can’t be right that plum internships are decided by who you know, not what you know.” He added, “That doesn’t mean parents shouldn’t constantly strive to get the best for their children, that’s the most natural thing in the world. But let’s at least try to get a bit of openness and fairness in the way in which internships are handed out in government and elsewhere.”

Downing Street played down suggestions of a rift between the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister over the issue. One spokesman said, “As the Prime Minister clearly states in the interview, he backs the Government’s social mobility strategy.”