Tim Ross and Steven Swinford
Downing Street was battling to avert a full-blown leadership crisis on the weekend as the Chancellor George Osborne suffered an unprecedented backlash from Conservative MPs.
Mr Osborne was facing calls to be demoted from his colleagues inside government due to his botched handling of the row over cuts to benefits for the disabled.
Senior MPs warned that Mr Osborne’s hopes of succeeding David Cameron had been fatally undermined by the furore, which led Iain Duncan Smith to quit the Cabinet on Friday night.
But two leading Eurosceptics rallied to Mr Osborne’s defence. Writing in The Sunday Telegraph, Michael Gove puts aside his differences with Mr Osborne over Europe to express his heartfelt support for his “friend”, the Chancellor, and his Budget.