Tory demands coalition divorce from Lib Dem ‘yellow peril’

A Conservative backbencher's call for his party to end the coalition triggered uproar in prime minister's questions this lunchtime.

Speculation about the Tories abandoning their Liberal Democrat partners and attempting to rule as a minority in the final stages of the parliament has been growing in parliament in recent weeks.

But it has taken until now for the possibility to be raised on the floor of the Commons. Peter Bone, the outspoken MP for Wellingborough, attacked the "appalling behaviour of Liberal Democrat Cabinet ministers" in not having backed Jeremy Hunt last week.

Lib Dem MPs abstained in the vote over whether or not the culture secretary should face scrutiny from the independent adviser on ministerial behaviour.

Mr Bone asked: "Would my preferred deputy prime minister arrange a divorce from the yellow peril so that we can govern with Conservative policies as a minority government?

Mr Hague replied: "As someone who helped to negotiate the coalition and who values enormously our cooperation with the Liberal Democrats, I will not be advocating a divorce in the government."

Despite the foreign secretary's efforts to draw a line under Tory dissatisfaction the chamber remained disturbed – especially when Liberal Democrat MPs asked questions.

The government won the vote over Mr Hunt's future with a majority of 38. But that has not stopped bitterness among Conservative backbenchers, which is threatening to undermine deputy prime minister Nick Clegg's Lords reform proposals.