A Conservative MP has hit out against the "old boys' network" dominating the Tories, as the class war within David Cameron's party drags on for another day.
Thurrock MP Jackie Doyle-Price targeted ongoing gossip around Boris Johnson's leadership prospects in an outspoken article which prolonged a controversial week for the Conservatives.
Doyle-Price complained the "obsession" with Johnson was becoming "destabilising to our party" with just a year to go until the general election and hit out at those "self-indulgently engaging in leadership speculation".
"The first thing to note is that the leadership of the party is not a bauble to be passed around the old boys network," she wrote in ConservativeHome.
"The party will decide who the next leader is. Not Stanley Johnson and not the media commentariat who are obsessed about whether Boris is about to return to the House of Commons or not.
"Out there nobody cares about the ambitions of Boris Johnson. They care about whether they can put food on the table and still be able to afford to take the kids away on a decent holiday."
Doyle-Price said the Conservatives' failure to get above the 36% vote share the Tories won in 2010 was down to the party's inability to connect with ordinary people.
Her fears reflect the concerns of many Conservative MPs worrying about whether they will save their seat in 2015 that the party will struggle to retain its position as the largest party in the Commons, let alone achieve an overall majority.
"While people are worrying about whether they are keeping their jobs, whether they will be able to afford the electricity bill and how much it costs to fill the car these days, our commentariat is talking about Boris," she added.
"We need to stop talking about ourselves and talk about the things that really matter to people. Otherwise we will be seen as out of touch, and Labour’s message will resonate."
Her comments about the 'old boys' network' prompted instant scorn from the Labour party, which is keen to continue a week of class infighting from the Tories.
Education secretary Michael Gove has reportedly received a "right royal bollocking" from Cameron after he complained the prime minister's inner circle contained a "ridiculous" and "preposterous" number of Old Etonians.
He received support from Foreign Office minister Sayeeda Warsi, who raised eyebrows by producing a mock newspaper headline stating 'NUMBER 10 TAKES ETON MESS OFF THE MENU'.
"Even David Cameron's own MPs are now admitting his government is out of touch and run by an old boys' network," shadow Cabinet Office minister Jon Ashworth said.
"Once again we are seeing the Tories fighting like ferrets in a sack rather than taking action to tackle the cost-of-living crisis facing hardworking people.
"The Tories are obsessed about the leadership of their party post 2015 because they know the current leadership has let down the country. Families are £1,600 a year worse off and yet the Tories are too busy attacking each other to provide any solutions."