David Cameron could face a vote of no confidence if the Tories crash to a heavy defeat in Thursday’s by-election, according to the Mirror.

Rattled backbench MPs are ready to trigger a leadership ­challenge if UKIP win Rochester and Strood in Kent by a big margin, party sources said.

The expected victory by ex Tory Mark Reckless could prompt more right-wingers to defect to Nigel Farage’s party, ­leading to a crisis. The PM admitted at the G20 summit in Australia that it would be a “sort of notch for them”.

He is preparing a major speech on the EU and immigration to try to recover from his likely loss.

Top Tories believe the only way to confront UKIP is to be tougher on immigration and EU reform, including threatening to leave.

Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said: “We’re in the beginning stages of a negotiation and – first of all – never, never go into any negotiation unless you’re prepared to stand up from the table and walk away.”

A senior Tory claimed the PM could face the no confidence vote if he mishandles his party after the by-election. They said: “I know a number of colleagues who would ­seriously think about going for it.

“He is going to have to put together one hell of a meeting of the party and frankly apologise.”

This is interesting because only yesterday (Saturday), on Any Questions, panellists were saying it is far too late for Labour to ditch Ed Miliband and elect a new leader. Now it seems entirely likely that this is exactly what will happen to the Conservatives.

Ed must be laughing fit to burst; it seems doubtful that David Cameron will see the funny side.

Follow me on Twitter: @MidWalesMike

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