The former deputy prime minister, who was offered a post combining foreign affairs, defence and Europe, has told his successor as Lib Dem leader that he would like to wait until next year before he joins his team.
The discussions between Farron, who had said during the Lib Dem leadership contest that he hoped Clegg would take on a “very high-profile” role in the parliamentary party, are understood to have been friendly.
Clegg felt it was important to give Farron the space to build his team without, in the words of one party source, having to look over his shoulder at his predecessor.
The former deputy prime minister, who is keen to play a role in the cross-party pro-EU campaign in the runup to the referendum, is understood to be keen to join Farron’s team next year.
Nick Clegg has turned down the offer of a prominent post in the new Liberal Democrat frontbench to allow Tim Farron to mould the party in his own image.