The deputy prime minister told the Guardian newspaper that he planned to persuade the Conservatives of the necessity of taxing the rich more than everyone else in order to get the economy back on track.

He told the Guardian: “If we are going to ask people for more sacrifices over a longer period of time, a longer period of belt tightening as a country, then we just have to make sure that people see it is being done as fairly and as progressively as possible.”

He went on to say that the government needed to “hard-wire fairness” into the next stages of economic recovery, suggesting that those with more money should play a greater part in the fiscal restraints intended to get Britain’s economy back on track.

“If we want to remain cohesive and prosperous as a society, people of very considerable personal wealth have got to make a bit of an extra contribution,” he told the Guardian.

He added that the tax would fall on wealth rather than income, saying: “The action is making sure that very high asset wealth is reflected in the tax system in the way that it isn’t now, making sure that we continue to crack down very hard on tax avoidance, making sure that tax breaks don’t go disproportionately to people at the very top.”

The extra tax would apply for a limited time only, while the economy recovers.

Good news for the little man, but what will the Tories make of it?

Predictably, the Conservatives have already weighed in, with senior Tory backbencher Bernard Jenkin telling the BBC: “If the politics of envy made a country rich, we would be a very rich country.

“I think most rich people are contributing far more in tax than other people.

“I know this is not a fashionable view, but if you go on raising tax on rich people – and that’s why, in agreement with Nick Clegg we have had to cut the top rate of tax from 50p to 45p – you drive wealth abroad.”

Conservative MP Mary Macleod told the BBC she didn’t envisage that Clegg’s proposal would be implemented.

“This is Nick Clegg saying let’s try out a few ideas before party conference, probably will cheer up a few Lib Dems to talk about it. But it isn’t government policy,” she said.

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