You heard it here first. Beachcroft Wansbroughs' Lord Hunt of the Wirral told Backchat over dinner on Monday that the corridors of power are alive with rumours of the imminent dethronement of Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It seems that parlimentarians are unsure why Blair has picked a fight with Robin Cook over the House of Lords, while a strong anti-war lobby is questioning his leadership of the party.

Hunt said that the rift between No10 and No11 Downing Street is growing with the respective press offices publicly distancing themselves from each other.

Where does it all lead? Well, said Hunt, the rumour-mongers reckon that Blair will gamble everything on a referendum over the Euro, where a failure to adopt would see him hand over the reins of power to Gordon Brown.

Brown, according to reports, is getting itchy feet for the top job and feels betrayed by Blair after their pre-election pact, cut over dinner at Islington's Granita restaurant, that he would not challenge Blair in the 1997 election if Blair handed over power in his second term.

Sounds like the current state of the major insurers' boardrooms...