for Tony Blair and Gordon Brown it was ice creams at dawn; for Nick Clegg and Vince Cable it was pints of beer for brunch.

After the bungled coup by Lord Oakeshott - Mr Cable's old friend and ally - to unseat their party leader following the Euro poll meltdown, the two Lib Dem pugilists arrived at the Queen's Head pub in London's Piccadilly to bury the hatchet.

A gaggle of cameras arrived on cue for the kiss-and-make-up photo op, ostensibly about launching new proposals to help pub landlords.

Nick gingerly pulled a pint of London Pride beer for Vince while he partook of a more sedate Archer Mild Ale.

In their power suits, the two political hacks made hard work of trying to relax and look comfortable in each other's company.

"Vince has been very, very clear," gushed Nick. "He had absolutely no idea what Matthew Oakeshott was getting up to with his polls."

Vince, who has denied any plotting, responded: "We work together. I support his leadership. We're going to move on from some very difficult elections."

Asked if the pub visit was a show of unity, Nick replied: "No. Vince and I have worked together for years as party colleagues, as old friends, and will continue to do so."

Today the Lib Dem parliamentary group will meet to ask the "most searching questions" after their party's election drubbing. Hatchets, please, to be left at the door.