Feb 1 2013
Downing Street insisted that the Prime Minister has "full confidence" in George Osborne amid press reports that he is facing backbench pressure to sack the Chancellor.
The Daily Mail reported that rebel MPs are preparing a letter to David Cameron, calling on him to replace the Chancellor if his March budget fails to revive Britain's economic fortunes.
According to the paper, the trigger for a letter could be a poor Tory performance in the May 2 local elections, which come just a week after the announcement of GDP figures for the first quarter of 2013, which will show whether Britain has slumped into triple-dip recession.
Some Tories are reported to have floated the prospect of a job-swap between Mr Osborne and Foreign Secretary William Hague.
Meanwhile, The Guardian reported that some Tory MPs are suggesting there could be a challenge to the Prime Minister's own position if Conservative fortunes fail to improve by the summer of next year.
The paper quoted an unnamed MP as saying that, if Mr Cameron has not "turned things round" by that point, there would be "no problem" drumming up the 46 letters from the parliamentary party required to trigger a vote of confidence.
Asked whether Mr Cameron had confidence in Mr Osborne, a Downing Street spokeswoman told reporters at a regular Westminster briefing: "Yes... the Prime Minister has full confidence in the Chancellor."
She added: "We have a plan to deal with a record deficit and we are sticking to that plan."