NICK Clegg has responded coolly to Ed Balls's attempt at healing their rift by branding as "completely ridiculous" the idea the Shadow Chancellor's warm words about him were paving the way for a post-election Lab-Lib coalition.

Mr Balls had surprisingly said he could work with the Liberal Democrat leader in power despite having previously appeared to rule out such a possibility.

"I can disagree with Nick Clegg on some of the things he did but I've no reason to doubt his integrity," declared Mr Balls in a magazine interview. "We've never had a cross word."

The Deputy Prime Minister said yesterday: "Ed Balls confessed to the fact that he and I had a passing friendly conversation in the House of Commons.

"If this is now being interpreted as some great act of political significance, then we are reaching new levels of hype."

Mr Clegg, who has previously admitted that the Labour frontbencher was the only politician with whom he had had personal animosity with, said the two men disagreed strongly on many issues.

But the LibDem leader added: "That doesn't mean you can't treat someone like a human being."