Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg was apparently so concerned about being seen next to George Osborne as the Chancellor delivered his Autumn Statement he travelled 300 miles to Cornwall.

An aide seen as close to the Chancellor told The Telegraph that Clegg "has decided he doesn't want to sit next to David Cameron or George Osborne. He has not been the for the past two Prime Minister's Questions."

Clegg, who spent the day speaking to members of the public in Penzance, Truro, St Austell and Porthleven, used the trip to announce a £150,000 options review into constructing off-shore sea defences. He emphasised that he had told Osborne in advance of his decision.

"This is not a snub," said Clegg. "I've spent four years dutifully sitting there on the green benches and this year I thought it would be a nice change to get out of the Westminster bubble and say what this Autumn Statement means to people, their families and businesses."

An aide to the deputy PM was keen to stress his vanishing act during one of the most important events in Westminster's calendar shouldn't be seen as a snub.

"On the day all he can do is sit there in silence. People say they want him to get out of Westminster more – he is making more proactive use of his time." The aide added: "Where Nick sits and where he goes are his decision."

However with the Libdems still somewhere between 6% and 8% in the polls, Clegg's attempts to distance himself from his Tory partners don't appear to be having much of a positive impact, and Clegg is expected to be back in his familiar spot beside the Prime Minister for PMQs next week.