David Cameron today attempted to shore up support among Conservative MPs by appointing a ‘Minister for his own Backbenches’.
Allies of the Prime Minister have been urging him for months to improve Downing Street’s relationship with restive Tory MPs who complain that their views are not being listened to in Government.
As a result he has appointed a one of the Coalition’s most outspoken right-wing ministers to become a senior Number 10 troubleshooter.
John Hayes, the current energy minister who publically declared his opposition on onshore wind farms, will become the Prime Minister’s senior parliamentary advisor.
Mr Hayes will be a minister of state without portfolio in the Cabinet Office and has also been appointed to the Privy Council, said Number 10 in a statement.
His role in the Department of Energy and Climate Change (DECC) will be taken by Michael Fallon – who will combine the energy brief with his current role as a minister in the Business Department.
Sources in DECC stressed that there had been no pressure from Ed Davey, the Liberal Democrat Climate Change Secretary, to move Mr Hayes despite the pair clashing over onshore wind farms.
They said the move had been initiated by Number 10 who wanted Mr Hayes to play a different role. It comes as The Spectator magazine today reports that around 25 letters of no confidence in Mr Cameron have been sent by Tory MPs to the Chairman of the Tory backbench 1922 committee. It takes 46 MPs to write to the Committee to trigger a vote of no confidence.
One ally of the Prime Minister said he had been urging him for some time to appoint an “ambassador” to represent Mr Cameron’s views to his MPs and feed-back intelligence and concern to Downing Street.
“This is something that should have been done by Ed Llewellyn (Mr Cameron’s chief of staff) but it really hasn’t,” said one source close the Prime Minister.
“The problem is that while MPs maybe big men and women in their constituencies they find that when they come down to Westminster they get treated by the party as if they don’t really matter. And that leads to resentment.
“I for one have told the PM that he needs to address that and have someone close to him who can spend time in the House of Commons tea room listening to concerns and complaints and feeding them back.”
Another source said Mr Fallon's appointment would give energy “a stronger business focus”, as he already has part of the energy brief in the business department.
In a message on Twitter, Mr Cameron said: “Delighted John Hayes joining me as a Senior Parliamentary adviser - and Michael Fallon adding a key energy role to his brief.”