Tory backbenchers oppose election delay proposals

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The Government faces a second Tory backbench revolt over plans to change the rules to delay a general election if the Liberal-Conservative coalition collapses.

Senior Conservative MPs oppose a plan to give David Cameron or another senior politician 14 days to form a new administration if the Government is defeated in a Commons vote of confidence.

They say the proposed breathing space would weaken the powers of the Queen and they want her to retain the right to decide when to call an election.

Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime Minister, has already been forced to climb down from his original plan to require 55 per cent of MPs to oppose the Government in a vote of confidence to force an election. Last week he reverted to a simple majority in an attempt to head off a Tory rebellion but announced that an election would not be called immediately and only if a new government could not be formed within 14 days of a no confidence vote being passed.

The Government's critics plan to amend the Bill which would bring in fixed-term, five-year parliaments, to be introduced this month. They will seek to remove the 14-day cooling off period, arguing that it is unnecessary.

David Davis, the former shadow Home Secretary, said the proposal was an attempt to save face. He said the Queen already took advice from officials when a government lost a confidence vote and she should retain her current flexibility to ask a senior politician of her choosing.