U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has “full confidence” in Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne, the premier’s spokeswoman said after reports of a plot by lawmakers to oust Osborne over his handling of the economy.
Conservative Party lawmakers are preparing to demand that Osborne be fired after generating almost no growth since coming to office in May 2010, according to newspaper reports today.
“The prime minister has full confidence in the chancellor,” Cameron’s spokeswoman, Vickie Sheriff, told reporters in London. “We know that one of the biggest impacts on our economy is what’s happening in the euro zone, which is why we’re working hard to see a conclusion to the crisis in the euro zone.”
The unidentified lawmakers are planning to write to Cameron after local elections in May and will demand Osborne’s ouster if his budget in March fails to have an impact, the Conservative-supporting Daily Mail reported. Government figures last week showed the economy shrank 0.3 percent in the final quarter of 2012, leaving it on the edge of an unprecedented triple-dip recession.
Cameron, who sought to pacify rank-and-file Tories last month by promising a referendum on whether to leave the European Union after the 2015 general election, also faces a challenge to his leadership unless the party’s poll ratings improve by 2014, the Guardian newspaper reported.
The speech has not delivered the surge in popularity for the Conservatives that some lawmakers expected, polling by a former party chairman, Michael Ashcroft, found. It strengthened support among existing Tory voters, while failing to win over new supporters, Ashcroft wrote on his blog.
“In December less than three in five of 2010 Tory voters said they would vote Conservative in an election tomorrow; after the speech that number had risen to two in three,” Ashcroft wrote. “In other words, the speech, and more importantly the policy it articulated, has made Tories feel better about being Tories. This is not to be sneezed at -- but let’s not confuse it with having changed anybody’s mind.”
The poll, in which 1,008 adults were surveyed by telephone and 2,036 online between Jan. 25 and Jan. 28, showed 29 percent of voters see the Conservatives as “a united party” compared with 48 percent for the opposition Labour Party.