Rumours hover over Osborne’s future

Reports of deep internal discomfort with the performance of shadow chancellor George Osborne are increasing within the Tory party, according to anonymous sources.

Rumours of an attempt to unseat Mr Osborne first surfaced during the Deripaska affair last month, but senior figures are becoming increasingly convinced the controversy bruised his confidence.

“George was a good chancellor for the good times – now he’s lost credibility,” an MP told the Financial Times.

Criticism of Mr Osborne’s performance in the midst of the credit crunch has also contributed to the uncertainty over his future.

Though insiders in David Cameron’s team deny the claims, there are reports Mr Osborne’s unpopularity has spread from the Thatcherite base – unhappy at his refusal to cut taxes – to more moderate conservatives.

Some have predicted William Hague could take over from Mr Osborne if a shift were to occur, leaving the shadow chancellor with an enhanced party chairman role.

Osborne’s supporters, however, say he has placed the Conservative party in a position which will turn voters away from Labour when the recession hits hardest.