Public health minister Anna Soubry has called on disenchanted backbench colleagues to end the "tw*ttery" undermining David Cameron – before attacking the prime minister herself.
The Broxtowe MP used a magazine interview to voice her suspicions that Cameron had only appointed her to the public health portfolio because of her gender.
"To be quite frank, when the PM said to me, 'I want you to do public health', I thought, 'oh boss, I respect you so much, but I'm the only woman here and I get public health – I hope there's no connection there'," she said.
Soubry explained she is a "tough old bird" who is determined to make people realise public health is "not a soft bloody girly option" but "a big serious job".
She declared: "I want my successor to be a man."
Her comments questioning the PM's reasoning for promoting her to the government are even more eyebrow-raising when considered in the context of her comments about the "doom and gloominess" overshadowing Cameron's leadership of the Conservative party.
"When people talk about such-and-such a person as an alternative to Cameron, there is no vacancy," Soubry added.
"What we now need to do is stop people in the party engaging in quite a lot of tw*ttery, and to accept that we've achieved a huge amount, and it's all to play for."
The Conservative party is succeeding in narrowing the polling gap between its and the Labour party, but it is far from clear Cameron will be able to secure an overall majority at the next general election – or even remain in No 10.
Concerns about the party's electoral prospects are prompting the party's more right-wing backbenchers to engage in a series of destabilising manoeuvres which are only expected to intensify as the coalition slowly disintegrates between now and spring 2015.
"I came into politics to fight lefties… that's where political fighting goes," Soubry said.
"The Tory party must learn from its own history that when we fight each other, you can guarantee to lose."