Local party anger builds against Yeo

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The Independent Online
TIM YEO, the minister who helped to create a single-parent family, returns to work this morning clinging to office in the run-up to a key meeting of his constituency activists.

Ministerial and parliamentary colleagues condemned the tabloid press yesterday for 'campaigning' to bring down the environment minister, but branch officials in his Suffolk South constituency reiterated their strong disapprobation of his conduct.

One Tory grandee warned: 'We're all responsible to our own individual constituents and associations. That is where our base starts from. It's not helpful if you find there's discontent about your position.'

Some Cabinet sources did not rate Mr Yeo's chances of surviving constituency disapproval, and John Redwood, the Secretary of State for Wales, who has condemned the rise of single motherhood, said in a BBC radio interview: 'Those of us who have made strong statements on the importance of the family live by those values and it is important that we should do so.'

Even with the support of association officers, and despite assurances from Downing Street that Mr Yeo will not be pushed, continuing publicity and discontent at grass-roots level may precipitate a resignation. Survival, if that is the outcome, might be short-lived, with Mr Yeo facing possible deselection as an MP at the next election.

The political future of the left-of-centre minister on the 'caring' wing of the party, could be settled after he addresses a meeting this week of his constituency association officers. Patricia Fitzpatrick, association chairman, was initially supportive. But there could be calls for an extraordinary general meeting, stepping up the agony while hastening an eventual demise.

Constituency reaction, page 2