Nicholas William Peter Clegg is a British politician who was the Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Lord President of the Council from 2010 to 2015 in the Coalition Government led by Prime Minister David Cameron. Clegg was the Leader of the Liberal Democrats from 2007 to 2015 and has been the Member of Parliament for Sheffield Hallam since 2005.
Clegg was educated at the University of Cambridge, the University of Minnesota, and the College of Europe, before becoming a journalist for the Financial Times and a Member of the European Parliament (MEP). In 2007 he was elected Leader of the Liberal Democrats, leading his party into a coalition government with the Conservative Party in 2010. In 2015, he resigned as leader of the Liberal Democrats following that year’s general election at which his party was reduced from 56 MPs to 8 MPs.
Clegg was selected as the lead Liberal Democrat euro-candidate for the East Midlands in 1998, and was first tipped as a politician to watch by Paddy Ashdown in 1999. On his election in 1999, he was the first Liberal parliamentarian elected in the East Midlands since Ernest Pickering was elected MP for Leicester West in 1931.
Following his election to parliament in 2005, Clegg was promoted by leader Charles Kennedy to be the party’s spokesperson on Europe, focusing on the party’s preparations for an expected referendum on the European constitution and acting as deputy to Foreign Affairs Spokesperson Menzies Campbell. Clegg’s ability to articulate liberal values at a very practical level quickly lent him prominence, with many already seeing him as a future Liberal Democrat leader.
After the resignation of Menzies Campbell, Clegg was regarded by much of the media as front-runner in the leadership election. The BBC’s Political Editor Nick Robinson stated the election would be a two-horse race between Clegg and Chris Huhne who had stood against Campbell in the 2006 election. On Friday 19 October 2007, Clegg launched his bid to become leader of the Liberal Democrats and on 18 December it was announced that he had won.
Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and Lord President of the Council on 11 May 2010 through a coalition with the Conservative Party under Prime Minister David Cameron. He was also Minister for Constitutional and Political Reform, which was a key point for the Liberal Democrats during the creation of the coalition.
The Liberal Democrats were deemed to have been a responsible coalition partner, though austerity was never popular or easy. The Liberal Democrats’ U-turn over tuition fees caused them huge damage among traditional supporters. During an interview on 24 October 2010 with the BBC’s Andrew Marr Clegg said that he “regretted” not being able to keep his pre-election policy to scrap tuition fees but claimed that this was a result of the financial situation the country had found itself in.
Clegg is an accomplished speaker and is fluent in five European languages.