The Westminster Village was thrown into convulsions this morning as the Business Secretary explicitly compared the Prime Minister to the Nazi leader.  “David Cameron is leader of the Conservative Party, but there is a bigger picture here,” Mr Cable said on the Marr programme. “Hitler was also a leader.  So was Genghis Khan.  So was Hannibal Lector.  So were Sauron, Colonel Kurtz, Dracula, the White Witch, Svengali, Cruella de Vil and Voldemort.  So, for that matter, is Satan.”

“This quote may just be incendiary enough to outrage gullible Conservative MPs, revive my ratings with LibDem activists, and fool everyone else into forgetting that nothing is actually changing and that Coalition business carries on as normal,” he continued.

A Downing Street source said: “We must play our own allotted part in the game, which we do by questioning how someone who compares the Prime Minister to Hitler can remain in the Cabinet, thus putting himself in roughly the same position, if the analogy applies, as Albert Speer.”

A Conservative backbencher said: “Cable must be sacked on the spot.  He must also be shot.  Furthermore, he must be torn apart by wild dogs, have his head nailed to traitor’s gate, and see his severed genitals hurled from Blackfriars Bridge at high tide – all at once.”

A Liberal Democrat spokesman said: “Vince didn’t compare Cameron to Hitler.  This is a lot of nonsense briefed out personally by Grant Shapps.  What he actually said was that Cameron is a leader and that Hitler was a leader, which is a matter of historical fact.”

In the meantime, no-one else took the slightest bit of notice, and Government policy and freedom of movement within the EU carried on exactly as before.