Embarrassing leaked emails from a key aide show that Conservative leader David Cameron's promise to withdraw from the European People's Party grouping in the European Parliament is "crumbling around his ears", Europe Minister Geoff Hoon said yesterday.
Desmond Swayne, Mr Cameron's parliamentary private secretary, paints a bleak picture of the pledge's impact and also makes a series of candid comments about colleagues including party chairman Francis Maude, the Sunday Times reported.
Failure to clarify the position on the European Union was creating a "vacuum" and could lead to an "army of activists" defecting to the UK Independence Party, Mr Swayne apparently wrote.
Moderate MEPs are "furious" over the planned decoupling from the centre-right grouping and Tories in Strasbourg have "never seen the lads so angry".
He also writes of "depression and even dismay" over European efforts to put some elements of the stalled European constitution into law, the paper says.
"The feeling of frustration and impotence is compounded by our perceived silence on things European.
"It is also a prime source of the grumbles in our mailbags".
Labour seized on the leak, saying it showed that the Tories were "as divided as ever over Europe".
Mr Hoon said: "David Cameron's policy is such a mess that both pro-European and anti-European Tory MEPs are threatening to quit the Conservative group in the European Parliament.
"This major commitment David Cameron gave during the Tory leadership election is now crumbling around his ears.
"Fulfilling the pledge would leave the Tories totally marginalised, allied with right-wing parties outside the mainstream and fudging the promise would undermine the credibility of any future policy commitments."
The paper also quotes Mr Swayne describing party chairman Francis Maude as "not yet trusted by the Parliamentary party" and shadow Commons leader Theresa May as "neither liked nor trusted across the party".
Mr Swayne is reported as referring to senior back-bencher Roger Gale in an email entitled "Mr Angry".
Conservatives outside the shadow cabinet are "every single one of them" in favour of nuclear power, he reportedly adds.
A Tory Party spokeswoman declined to comment on the report. ..SUPL: