There have been rumours of one final rebellion against Gordon Brown all week and now it's said to have reached cabinet level. Paul Waugh of the Evening Standard has the story. He says:
In the last few hours, the rumours have been swirling around again that a cabinet minister could quit in protest at Gordon's leadership. The plotters have certainly asked a sympathetic minister to do so -- but whether he will do so is another matter.
Channel 4's Gary Gibbon adds:
Now I hear that phones ran hot between backbench MPs, junior ministers and at least two cabinet members, it is claimed, over the Christmas break about how to bring the PM down.
If the rebels do make their move, let's hope they finish the job this time. A failed rebellion would be the worst of all possible outcomes for Labour. I'm convinced that the absence of a pre-eminent, Heseltine-style challenger remains a fatal stumbling block to a successful putsch.
But it's not surprising that significant parts of the PLP are considering one last heave against Brown. The psephological case against the PM remains formidable. As I've noted before, no prime minister as unpopular as him has gone on to win the subsequent election. Philip Gould has told the cabinet that Labour could win only if it replaced Brown.
The best argument I've heard for removing Brown is that a new leader will provide a poll bounce for Labour at just the moment the party needs it most. Had Brown been forced out last summer, the bounce would have ended by the election.
I expect more backbenchers to take up this argument in the coming days.