Michael Gove and David Cameron
Number 10 denied that Michael Gove and David Cameron are at odds over the issue Getty Images

The saga around the government's plan to withdraw from the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR) continued today after Downing Street was forced to deny that the all-Conservative cabinet was split over the issue.

The move came after a pro-Tory newspaper reported that David Cameron had decided against taking the UK out of the convention and instead wanted to scrap the Human Rights Act (the law which binds Britain to the ECHR) in a "halfway house" compromise.

The Daily Telegraph claimed that the Home Secretary, Theresa May, and the Justice Secretary, Michael Gove, were against the prime minister's decision.

"Withdrawal is not going to happen. Gove and May think it's the only solution but Cameron's clear this is off the table," a senior government source told the paper.

The story left the possibility of a promised "British Bill of Rights" in doubt but Downing Street was quick to claim that the reform was still on the cards.

A Number 10 spokesperson said: "The government's policy is as set out in the manifesto and that is shared by May, the prime minister and the whole cabinet."

The latest episode came after draft legislation to withdraw the UK from the ECHR was absent from the Queen's Speech last Wednesday (27 May).

It later emerged that the plan to fulfil the general election manifesto commitment had been suspended for at least a year.

The down shift was enacted after some Tory backbenchers, dubbed the "Runnymede Tories" (in reference to the location where King John signed Magna Carta), made their opposition to the controversial constitutional change known.

David Davis, a former minister and Conservative leadership contender, has been one of the loudest critics of the plan.

"I'm afraid we will come into conflict with the European court and I don't want us to leave it. If we leave, it's an excuse for everyone else to leave. So I think that could be quite an interesting argument, come the day," he told the Hull Daily Mail.

Cameron, who commands a majority of just 12, will want to get Davis and his "Runnymede" comrades on side before the House of Commons votes on the issue.

A defeat would leave the prime minister embarrassed and could destabilise Cameron's government.