David Cameron was hit by another rebellion among Conservative MPs last night as they vented their anger over the Government's plans for an elected House of Lords.
The weekly private meeting of the 1922 Committee was described as a "bloodbath" after Tory MPs queued up to demand the Prime Minister veto Nick Clegg's flagship proposals for an 80 per cent elected second chamber.
About 20 MPs spoke out against Lords reform, arguing that it should not dominate the new parliamentary session starting next month. Mark Menzies, MP for Fylde, is said to have threatened to resign as a parliamentary private secretary. Only one loyalist MP defended the Lords shake-up.
"The message to Cameron was that he has to got to stand up to Clegg," one senior Tory told The Independent. "It's another headache for the PM. There will be a huge revolt on this, in the Commons as well as the Lords. He will not get it through."
A joint committee of MPs and peers will on Monday call for the reform to be approved in a referendum before the first new Lords members are elected. Tory MPs backed the call and also demanded a referendum on Europe.
The Lords rebellion erupted a day after 29 Tory MPs voted against individual measures in the Finance Bill, which implements last month's Budget. They included the so-called "pasty tax"and the "caravan tax".
However, only one Tory MP, Philip Hollobone, rebelled against the Budget's "granny tax" last night. The Commons voted by 299 to 230, a government majority 69, in favour of the freeze on pensioners' tax allowances from April next year.
Dot Gibson, of the National Pensioners Convention, said: "This will be seen by Britain's 4.5 million tax paying pensioners as a real betrayal of the older generation."