Cameron warned Brown still ‘reaching out’

For his second appearance on the conference stage, Gordon Brown continued to stress policy and sobriety.

But one comment appeared designed to rattle an embattled Conservative party facing the prospect of further defections.

In a question and answer session with Mariella Frostrup, the prime minister said he would continue to “reach out” to everyone beyond party lines.

He was speaking after the former Conservative Cabinet minister Norman Tebbit roundly attacked the Conservative leader, whilst also praising Mr Brown’s governance.

Rumours are mounting in Bournemouth that Mr Brown could upstage next week’s Conservative conference by announcing the defection of another Conservative MP, either to follow Quentin Davis across the floor or to take on an advisory position.

The Guardian cites Labour sources who say an unnamed Conservative MP has been feeling out the prospects of defection.

Mr Davies, who defected to Labour on the eve of Mr Brown’s appointment, was rewarded this week with a high profile appearance on the conference stage.

The newspaper says Labour members have been proactive in approaching Conservatives and offering them advisory positions on government reviews.

Patrick McLoughlin, the Tory chief whip, is now reportedly ringing around backbench MPs in an attempt to avert further defections.

Mr Cameron suffered a minor setback today when one of his A-list candidates announced she would support Labour in the next election.

Judith Symes said Mr Cameron was not living up to his promise to modernise the party.

She told the Brighton Argus: “He has not gathered together a cross-section of society. Instead, elitism and exclusivity are at the heart of the party.”