Huhne accuses 'madcap' Tory right
Conservative backbenchers have hit back at claims by Energy Secretary Chris Huhne that they were putting Britain's recovery in "peril".
The Liberal Democrat cabinet minister used his keynote conference speech to savage hard-right Tories by lumping them in with the "mad cap" American Tea Party.
He claimed Tories who "slaver over tax cuts for the rich" and failed to make compromises would "wreck the nation's economy".
And, seizing on growing unrest among Conservatives about Europe, he vowed that the Lib Dems would not allow the Government to "weaken the ties" to Brussels.
Conservative MP Peter Bone accused Mr Huhne of positioning himself to replace Nick Clegg as leader and said the comments demonstrated how "batty" the Lib Dems could be.
"I thought it was a bid to become the next leader of the Lib Dems," he said.
"The idea that members like myself who support cutting taxes, dealing with Europe and curbing immigration are like the Tea Party, well I'm very happy with that because those are the things that British people want.
"I think he is completely out of touch. It just shows how batty the Liberal Democrats can be at times.
"The tail is wagging the dog with the coalition, they have far too much influence and they need to be cut down to size."
Conservative MP Mark Pritchard, secretary of the influential 1922 Committee of backbenchers, said: "After the next election, I suspect many senior Lib Dems will find time on their hands to hold their very own tea parties, drinking expensive yellow tea, a favourite of the Imperial Court. By then, Tim Farron, (Lib Dem party president) more of a Tetley Tea man, would have been elected the new Lib Dem leader."