Local poll rout 'could spell crisis for PM' amid concerns that the Budget will fail to deliver the goods

By James Chapman and Tamara Cohen

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What's next? Some senior MPs are already planning for life after Cameron should the Tories be embarrassed in the local elections

What's next? Some senior MPs are already planning for life after Cameron should the Tories be embarrassed in the local elections

Tory rebels claim David Cameron’s leadership could be pushed into crisis within weeks if the Budget fails to deliver and the party suffers a drubbing in May’s local elections.

Amid rumours of Cabinet ministers jostling for position, as MPs consider life after Mr Cameron, Tories said they were braced for the loss of hundreds of seats in the May polls.

Home Secretary Theresa May, who has emerged as a leading candidate to replace the Prime Minister if the party fails to secure an overall majority in 2015, will today address a rally for activists on how the party can win.

Mrs May is known to be unhappy at the focus on her ambitions and her allies have pledged loyalty to Mr Cameron, saying she would only consider standing in the event of a defeat she does not expect the party to suffer.

Tory MPs suspect Chancellor George Osborne is encouraging speculation about the ambitions of some of his colleagues who are resisting further spending cuts, a charge denied by his allies.

Yesterday one report said rebel MPs disillusioned with coalition politics believe they are now just half a dozen names away from the 46 needed to trigger a vote of no confidence in Mr Cameron – and say a poor showing in the May local elections, when the Tories will defend 1,500 council seats, could be critical.

The claims are impossible to verify, since only Graham Brady, chairman of the backbench 1922 Committee, who receives such letters, knows how many have been sent and guards the information with strict secrecy, even from his closest colleagues.

 

Ministers loyal to Mr Cameron say a small band of malcontents are exaggerating the scale of unhappiness in an attempt to destabilise Number Ten and accuse them of ‘staggering self-indulgence’.

Some senior MPs who believe there is no prospect of Mr Cameron being ousted are suggesting Mr Osborne should be shifted from the Treasury, and replaced by Defence Secretary Philip Hammond or Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Time for action: George Osbourne, pictured here being shown plans of the new Birmingham Assay Office is under huge pressure with the Budget

Time for action: George Osbourne, pictured here being shown plans of the new Birmingham Assay Office is under huge pressure with the Budget

Former Cabinet minister Liam Fox, a leading figure on the Right of the party, is expected to call for bolder tax cuts and pro-growth measures in a speech on Monday.

Rebel MPs claim they set the Prime Minister ‘five tests’ at the start of 2013: Britain keeping its AAA credit status, winning the Eastleigh by-election, a good Budget, avoiding heavy defeat in the local elections and preventing a triple-dip recession.

Two – the credit rating and the Eastleigh poll – have already been failed.

 

The comments below have not been moderated.

Bang the drums UKIP and get Britain/British people out of the EUSSR. Albert of Alvelon.

Click to rate     Rating   19

People are lacking intelligence by voting UKIP. No policies, no clue, no chance. - JR1994 , Hastings, 09/3/2013 20:00 - Who's lacking intelligence? You have obviously not read their manifesto. Have you ever bothered to have a look at the caliber of people who are in their top echelon? I can tell you this even at local level there are some highly experienced professional people. As for chance, they are Britain's last chance. I would say that whatever a person has voted in the past if they can't see that it has been disastrous for Britain then it is they who are lacking in intelligence.

Click to rate     Rating   38

Its very simple to find out what the general public think of Cameron, hold an opinion poll on his leadership and would you vote Tory with him still at the helm. They ought to have a little tick box with it as well with at least two important questions. One is a immediate referendum on the EU and two do you believe what the Prime Minister tells you.Results would force a new leadership election immediately. I have only voted Tory all my life and I am in my seventies but not now, he lies all the time and I will vote UKIP next election.

Click to rate     Rating   33

I think in the past U.K.I.P. voters were afraid they were wasting their vote, and weren't too keen on KILROY ,as i did each time i voted for them, possibly why the voting numbers are so low, even when they were called a one policy party, because they wanted to be out of the e.u. Thanks to EASTLIEGH lighting the fuse,and we are no longer measured in hundreds. I know I'm not wasting my vote, and can't wait for 2015. [hopefully before, if this house of cards fall.] It's just a pity it is almost too late to do anything about the e.u.

Click to rate     Rating   31

CAMERON IS WELL ON HIS WAY OUT!

Click to rate     Rating   39

The current gov policies are geared to prop up the housing market which is wrecking the rest of the economy. Iceland let market forces be market forces and their housing market corrected. The interesting thing is they are well out of a recession and have growth!!!

Click to rate     Rating   72

What next? Replace a liar with a muppet and with this Tory miracle all will be well. To little to late Dave old son,you drove this Tory voter to being a paid up member of UKIP.

Click to rate     Rating   49

People are lacking intelligence by voting UKIP. No policies, no clue, no chance.

Click to rate     Rating   58

If the Tories think that by replacing Cameron with May they can win the next election, they may as well pack up and go home now. Judging by her speeches, what she lacks in ability, she more than makes up in stupidity. David Davis can win the next election if he were made party leader. But there is little chance of that, all that the party is good for is self-destruction. God help this poor country!

Click to rate     Rating   39

three years into five of government and what you get is lies,whoever voted for Cameron surely did not want this .

Click to rate     Rating   48

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