Sir Ed Davey made a foul-mouthed swipe as he suggested the Tories are “c****” in a keynote speech closing the Lib Dem conference today.
The Liberal Democrat leader apologised for previously calling the Conservatives “clowns”.
He said a party member who is a clown got in touch to say he “took great offence”.
Sir Ed said: “On reflection, I have to admit, he’s got a point.
“So let me take this opportunity to apologise unreservedly to that party member, and to the whole clowning community. I’m sorry. I used the wrong c-word.”
Sir Ed also set out the Lib Dems’ plan to drag Britain closer back towards the EU.
He pledged to “tear down those trade barriers, fix our broken relationship with Europe and get a better deal for Britain” as he closed the autumn gathering in Bournemouth.
He also claimed Labour’s plan to rewrite the Brexit deal was “nowhere near that ambitious”.
He said Sir Keir Starmer’s party has a “long way still to go”, adding that it is up to his party to “lead the way”.
But the Liberal Democrat leader continued to avoid explicitly saying the Lib Dems would rejoin the EU.
Sir Ed told members in the conference hall: “And there’s another crucial part of our economic vision. Another area where we are different from this Government.
“Something that would so obviously make an enormous difference to our economy and our standard of living.
“Something we have always been proud to champion, even when no one else even dared whisper it. Fixing our broken relationship with Europe.
“The Conservatives botched the deal with Europe, and it’s been a disaster for the UK.
“They sold out British farmers and fishers. They tied up British business in red tape. And they pushed up food prices in our supermarkets.
“So much unnecessary pain inflicted on so many by so few. And only the Liberal Democrats have consistently stood up against it.
“Only we have set out a plan to tear down those trade barriers, fix our broken relationship with Europe and get a better deal for Britain. Yes – only we.
“Because Labour’s plan – if you can call it a plan – is nowhere near that ambitious.
“To be fair, they’ve come a long way from when they voted for Boris Johnson’s terrible deal.
“But Labour has a long way still to go. Which means it’s up to us to lead the way.
“A better economy. A better future. With Europe.”
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