A Tory MP at the centre of a reported leadership plot has broken his silence to warn the government it is "entering the last chance saloon" over sluggish growth.
Adam Afriyie derided pet projects of the coalition such as the High Speed 2 rail link as "grandiose," and called on chancellor George Osborne to introduce measures which ensure immediate growth.
Windsor MP Afriyie spoke out after Britain was stripped of its AAA credit rating, the retention of which was central to Osborne's economic plans. He said:
"The coalition is about to enter the last chance saloon. Without growth the government will not secure a Conservative majority in 2013.
"The budget is a final opportunity to deliver real growth before 2015. Grandiose infrastructure projects have their place but they do not deliver immediate economic benefits.
"What we need are bold, simple, serious measures to secure growth right now."
Afriyie was recently mooted as a potential Tory leader during a bout of unrest among Conservative backbenchers against Prime Minister David Cameron.
A self-made multimillionaire who grew up in a council flat in deprived south London, Afriyie has been dubbed "the British Obama".
He has kept a low profile in parliament and is unknown beyond the Westminster "village" and his own constituency boundaries.
Osborne is set to deliver his Budget next month. In the wake of the downgrade by ratings agency Moody's, sterling was punished in the money markets as it plunged to its lowest level this year.
Moody's claimed sluggish economic growth is set to continue for years, directly contradicting Osborne's promise of solid growth by the time of the General Election in 2015.
Last night (Sunday) Business Secretary Vince Cable took to the airwaves to deny tensions between the Chancellor and himself. He told BBC there was a "professional" working relationship between the pair.
Cable dismissed as "largely symbolic" the ratings downgrade.
"In terms of the real economy there is no reason why the downgrade should have any impact.
"If you remember last year the US was downgraded, the economy grew strongly relative to Europe and France had a downgrade last year, its interest rates that it borrows long-term in the markets are only a little above ours."
Labour branded the downgrade a "humiliating blow" for the government. It is drawing up a masterplan for the 2015 election with the aim of achieving a 64 seat majority. Continuing sluggish growth amid biting austerity measures could give Labour leader hope of reaching that goal.