David Cameron has been given a stark warning by Conservative Party activists not to offer any new policy concessions to Nick Clegg if the Liberal Democrats suffer big losses at the local elections next month.
A survey of 1,115 Tory members for The Independent found that an overwhelming 92 per cent want the Prime Minister to refuse to bolster Mr Clegg's position, because the Tories have already made enough concessions on issues such as Europe, defence, crime and the family.
Only 8 per cent want Mr Cameron to find new ways to keep Mr Clegg happy, such as speeding up reform of the House of Lords and slowing down the Government's controversial shake-up of the NHS.
The poll, conducted by the ConservativeHome website, found that only 19 per cent of Tory members believe that their party secured the best deal from the Coalition Agreement. A majority (52 per cent) believe that the Liberal Democrats got the best deal, while 29 per cent regard the agreement as equally good for both parties.
Mr Clegg's party is expected to do badly in the 5 May elections for English councils, the Scottish Parliament and Welsh Assembly. The pressure on him from his own party to win policy "sweeteners" from Mr Cameron would increase if people reject the alternative vote (AV) in the referendum on the electoral system on the same day.
The uncompromising message from the Conservative grassroots is echoed by Tory MPs at Westminster. "The feeling is 'Thus far, no further'," one backbench leader said yesterday. "Clegg has got to remember his party is the junior partner, not an equal partner."
Tensions between the two Coalition parties are rising. Today, Mr Clegg will urge Labour supporters not to vote against AV as a way of punishing him. He will say: "A Yes vote would be a victory for progressive politics."
While admitting he is "not exactly every Labour supporter's favourite politician right now", he will tell them: "This change will outlast David Cameron, Ed Miliband and myself. You have a chance to make a real, progressive change to our democracy – don't miss this chance to take it."
A YouGov survey for the No campaign found that 59 per cent of people do not believe AV would stop MPs abusing their expenses system; 55 per cent do not think it would stop the BNP winning seats and 41 per cent do not judge that it would make MPs work harder, as the Yes camp claims.