David Cameron has abandoned his promise to allow voters to recall disgraced parliamentarians, amid fears that his MPs could face a series of attempts to unseat them.

The prime minister had promised to bring in "early legislation" to allow voters to force a by-election, in an attempt to deal with voter anger over the expenses scandal.

The 2010 coalition agreement promised to: "Bring forward early legislation to introduce a power of recall, allowing voters to force a by-election where an MP is found to have engaged in serious wrongdoing and having had a petition calling for a by-election signed by 10% of his or her constituents."

This proposal was subsequently watered down by Cameron last year, apparently to avoid "vexatious" attempts to remove sitting MPs.

It has now emerged that the legislation has been dropped altogether and will not appear in this year's Queen's speech, the last opportunity for it to do so this parliament.

Conservative MP Zac Goldsmith, who has long championed the proposals, said that voters would feel deceived by the government.

"Parties can stuff their manifestos full of clever promises, but if voters don't believe them, they may as well present blank sheets," he tweeted.

"How is it possible that our leaders still don't understand that the single biggest cause of people's hatred of them is deceit?"

The decision to drop the legislation is believed to have been jointly taken by David Cameron, George Osborne, Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander.

The Lib Dems today accused Cameron of blocking the proposal.

"Nick Clegg wanted it in the Queen's speech and that would have been a positive step in the right direction," the party's president Tim Farron told the Today programme.

"It seems very wrong to me that an MP can be in that position for five years, get up to things which all of us would agree was inappropriate and be in a position where they would not be able to be held to account during that time.

"That's the basic, relatively modest proposals that were in the coalition agreement, and there's no obvious excuse or good reason for David Cameron to block that bill now. But that is what he's done."

The Labour party remain committed to the proposals.

"David Cameron is now backtracking from his own manifesto commitment to introduce recall of MPs," shadow justice secretary Sadiq Khan said.

"And Nick Clegg's claims back in 2010 that he'd be the "great reformer" on the constitution are frankly laughable as he's got nothing whatsoever to show for it."