Fourteen Tory MPs tried to launch an unsuccessful leadership challenge against David Cameron, according to reports.
The news, which follows the attempt to turn Tory MP backbencher Bob Stewart into a stalking horse candidate, will further destabilise the prime minister's leadership as he heads into difficult political territory.
The Spectator reported that 14 MPs – well short of the 46 needed – wrote to the chairman of the party's 1922 Committee, Graham Brady, to demand a leadership challenge. Brady refused to confirm the story.
Tory MP Stewart Jackson told the BBC Cameron needed to "up his game" today. he went on to argue that crime and EU policy needed to "toughen up", while "barmy policies" like gay marriage should be scrapped.
Reports from the private Carlton Club dinner fundraising dinner last night said Cameron ended his speech with a call for the Conservatives to avoid the sort of disunity which plagued previous administrations.
The development comes at a difficult time for Cameron, who is now unfavourably compared to London mayor Boris Johnson on a daily basis.
Recent polls suggested Boris could close the gap in the polls with Labour and save the seats of dozens of Tory MPs in marginal constituencies.
Cameron is also at the point where he will have to admit defeat on his planned constituency reforms, which would have bolstered Tory results on election day.
The Liberal Democrats are now implacably opposed to the move, so it has no chance of getting through.
The prime minister has not given up the fight yet. But with Lib Dem and Labour constituency parties being authorised to select candidates for marginal seats, his reluctance to implement elections on existing boundaries will soon end up hurting Conservative election chances.
Meanwhile, Cameron is facing problems from a new rump of eurosceptic MPs. Yesterday, a cross-party group calling for an EU referendum was formed by backbencher John Baron, with an inaugural meeting set for October 16th.