Tory MPs plot leadership challenge to Cameron

Right-wing opposition grows as critics claim PM could be ousted if slump continues

David Cameron's leadership was under fresh pressure last night following claims that 14 Tory MPs have backed calls to remove him.

The Spectator magazine reported that the group had written to Graham Brady, the chairman of the party's backbench 1922 Committee, asking for a leadership challenge. The number is well short of the 46 required to trigger a contest, but it is a new indication of the growing hostility to the Prime Minister among some of his own MPs.

Some Tory critics believe he could be at his most vulnerable next year if there is little sign of economic recovery and the party is languishing in the polls.

A Conservative MP recently revealed he had been approached by two backbenchers asking him to mount a "stalking horse" challenge to Mr Cameron, while speculation has intensified that Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London, is preparing the ground for a return to the Commons – and an eventual tilt at the leadership.

Mr Brady refused to be drawn on the report, but said: "Nobody else apart from me would know whether it's true or not and I haven't spoken to anyone."

Meanwhile, The Independent understands that the Prime Minister is about to signal a major retreat on plans to redraw Britain's parliamentary map by the 2015 general election, which would have handed a major advantage to the Conservatives. The moves to cut the number of seats from 650 to 600 are being opposed by the Liberal Democrats after the Tories pulled the plug on House of Lords reforms.

Although Mr Cameron insisted last month that he was pressing ahead with the proposals, he is preparing to authorise Tory constituency parties in marginal seats to select candidates on existing, rather than proposed, boundaries.

The announcement will be seen as a recognition that the Government will not be able to drive the proposals on to the statute book.

A well-placed Tory source said: "It makes sense – Labour and the Lib Dems are starting to select on the old boundaries and we can't afford to get left behind."

The latest monthly poll of polls for The Independent puts Tory support on 33 per cent in August (unchanged), eight points behind Labour on 41 per cent (down one). The Liberal Democrats are on 12 per cent (up one).

John Curtice, a professor of politics at Strathclyde University, who compiled the "poll of polls," calculated that the figures would give Ed Miliband an overall majority of 90 on the old boundaries – but 76 if the next election is fought on the revised boundaries.

Mr Cameron also faces a new challenge with the launch of a parliamentary campaign for a referendum on EU membership – a move opposed by the Tory leadership. Although it is aimed at MPs of all parties, it is likely to attract the highest levels of support from eurosceptics on the Conservative benches and could be a new focus for internal dissent.

Its founder, the Tory MP John Baron said: "Our objective is to pressure the Government and the political establishment generally to allow the country its say as to our membership of the EU."

Another rebellion is brewing against the Prime Minister over his commitment to same-sex marriages, with some Conservatives saying the measure has provoked more anger among Tory members than any other issue. Although there is little doubt that the planned legislation will be passed with Labour and Liberal Democrat support in a free vote, it is becoming a rallying point for Mr Cameron's internal enemies. One said: "No one can really understand why he has invested so much energy on this. There would be uproar in my constituency if I voted in favour."

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Voices
Pupils educated at schools like Eton (pictured) are far more likely to succeed in politics and the judiciary, the report found
voices
Arts and Entertainment
Simon Cowell is less than impressed with the Strictly/X Factor scheduling clash
tvSimon Cowell blasts BBC for breaking 'gentlemen's agreement' in scheduling war
News
Orson Welles made Citizen Kane at 25, and battled with Hollywood film studios thereafter
people
News
Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie reportedly married in secret on Saturday
peopleSpokesperson for couple confirms they tied the knot on Saturday after almost a decade together
Sport
footballAnd Liverpool are happy despite drawing European champions
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
tv
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
Diana from the Great British Bake Off 2014
tvProducers confirm contestant left because of illness
Arts and Entertainment
Lisa Kudrow, Courtney Cox and Jennifer Anniston reunite for a mini Friends sketch on Jimmy Kimmel Live
tv
Life and Style
fashion

Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, UI, JMX, FIX)

Negotiable: Harrington Starr: Client-Side web developer (JQuery, Javascript, U...

Structured Finance

Highly Competitive Salary: Austen Lloyd: CITY - An excellent new instruction w...

SQL Server Developer

£500 per day: Harrington Starr: SQL Server Developer SQL, PHP, C#, Real Time,...

C#.NET Developer

£600 per day: Harrington Starr: C#.NET Developer C#, Win Forms, WPF, WCF, MVVM...

Day In a Page

Ukraine crisis: The phoney war is over as Russian troops and armour pour across the border

The phoney war is over

Russian troops and armour pour into Ukraine
Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

Potatoes could be off the menu as crop pests threaten UK

The world’s entire food system is under attack - and Britain is most at risk, according to a new study
Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Gangnam smile: why the Chinese are flocking to South Korea to buy a new face

Seoul's plastic surgery industry is booming thanks to the popularity of the K-Pop look
From Mozart to Orson Welles: Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

Creative geniuses who peaked too soon

After the death of Sandy Wilson, 90, who wrote his only hit musical in his twenties, John Walsh wonders what it's like to peak too soon and go on to live a life more ordinary
Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Caught in the crossfire of a cyber Cold War

Fears are mounting that Vladimir Putin has instructed hackers to target banks like JP Morgan
Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years

Salomé: A head for seduction

Salomé's feminine wiles have inspired writers, painters and musicians for 2,000 years. Now audiences can meet the Biblical femme fatale in two new stage and screen projects
From Bram Stoker to Stanley Kubrick, the British Library's latest exhibition celebrates all things Gothic

British Library celebrates all things Gothic

Forthcoming exhibition Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination will be the UK's largest ever celebration of Gothic literature
The Hard Rock Café's owners are embroiled in a bitter legal dispute - but is the restaurant chain worth fighting for?

Is the Hard Rock Café worth fighting for?

The restaurant chain's owners are currently embroiled in a bitter legal dispute
Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival

In search of Caribbean soul food

Caribbean cuisine is becoming increasingly popular in the UK ... and there's more to it than jerk chicken at carnival
11 best face powders

11 best face powders

Sweep away shiny skin with our pick of the best pressed and loose powder bases
England vs Norway: Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Roy Hodgson's hands tied by exploding top flight

Lack of Englishmen at leading Premier League clubs leaves manager hamstrung
Angel Di Maria and Cristiano Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

Di Maria and Ronaldo: A tale of two Manchester United No 7s

They both inherited the iconic shirt at Old Trafford, but the £59.7m new boy is joining a club in a very different state
Israel-Gaza conflict: No victory for Israel despite weeks of death and devastation

Robert Fisk: No victory for Israel despite weeks of devastation

Palestinians have won: they are still in Gaza, and Hamas is still there
Mary Beard writes character reference for Twitter troll who called her a 'slut'

Unlikely friends: Mary Beard and the troll who called her a ‘filthy old slut’

The Cambridge University classicist even wrote the student a character reference
America’s new apartheid: Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone

America’s new apartheid

Prosperous white districts are choosing to break away from black cities and go it alone