Tensions over referendum hit fever pitch after Huhne attack

SIMMERING coalition tensions over tomorrow’s referendum on AV reached boiling point yesterday, after Chris Huhne launched an extraordinary attack against the Prime Minister and chancellor during a cabinet meeting.

In heated exchanges, the climate change secretary challenged David Cameron and George Osborne to “disassociate” themselves from the No campaign, which he claims is “trashing” the Liberal Democrats.

Osborne hit back at Huhne, likening him to Jeremy Paxman and insisting that a cabinet meeting was an inappropriate forum for such a discussion.

An ally of Osborne’s said: “The chancellor was rising above it all in a statesmanlike way.” Another added: “The same can’t be said of Huhne.”

But a Lib Dem source said: “There is a body of Lib Dems that feel the No campaign has been out of order.

“He brought it up during a conversation about party business and was right to do so.”

There was growing speculation in Westminster last night that Huhne could resign from the cabinet if the No campaign wins, and capitalise on growing dissatisfaction among grassroots Liberal Democrats to launch a leadership challenge against Nick Clegg.

A senior Lib Dem said: “There’s a general view that Chris is on manoeuvres.”

Yesterday, Ladbrokes cut the odds of a Liberal Democrat cabinet minister resigning within 24 hours of the referendum from 3/1 to 2/1.

Last night, a ComRes poll put the No campaign on 66 per cent against 34 per cent for the Yes campaign.