Rumours of a plot to oust David Cameron as Tory leader have emerged in the press, with gay marriage being seen as a key factor.
According to The Sunday Times, backbench Tories say gay marriage may be “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
About 17 MPs are said to have written letters of “no confidence” in Mr Cameron’s leadership.
Significantly, discussions about toppling Mr Cameron have spread beyond a core group of hardline opponents, the newspaper claims.
The Sunday Times has spoken to backbench Tories, and it appears same-sex marriage has done the “most damage” to Mr Cameron’s standing amongst backbenchers.
One MP said he had received 1,000 letters from unhappy constituents, whilst another has been told by her local party activists that they will no longer campaign if she supports gay marriage.
A senior backbencher said that for a number of MPs, the Prime Minister’s insistence on pushing through the proposals was “the straw that broke the camel’s back”.
Another said: “There may still be a fair way to go before people look at bringing Cameron down, but there’s a steady process of building up animosity. He is using up goodwill for something of minuscule importance.”
More than 130 Conservative MPs are expected to vote against same-sex marriage legislation when the Bill has its second reading in a matter of weeks.